one year, i was probably 14, i went on a field trip to vancouver, b.c. for marine biology. it was during hanukkah and i, of course, was the only one celebrating. with the best of intentions, i brought three votive candles (it was the 3rd night, after all) and lit them in our hotel room (why 14 year olds got hotel rooms on a weekend trip is beyond me).
when i was young my auntie madeline would host our whole family at her house. cousins upon cousins running around, crawling, playing and lighting candles. we had a table full of menorahs that our grandmothers or grandfathers would help us light (see super cute photo of me above). and at some point, all nine or ten cousins would pile on the couch, get ourselves looking pretty and have a picture taken. those are great pictures.
for the past seven or eight years my mom and i have been invited to a family friend's hanukkah party. i swear they invite every person they've ever known and ask each person to bring a dish of their tradition. they provide the lattkes. we sing a round of songs, fill our plates with food, cram ourselves into some sort of sitting position amidst all the people-on the ground, on the piano, on the arm of a couch-and catch up on the past year.
i always celebrate with my dad and light the candles on his beautiful menorah that was his mom's. it is ceramic and i love it. it's one of the few times i get to hear my dad say the blessings with his yiddish tint.
last night my roommates invited a few people over and we made an impromptu dinner all together. eating at the dinning room table, next to the hanukkah lights is special.
i remember hanukkah parties growing up, where women would be grating onions and squeezing out moisture in piles of potatoes.
tomorow is the last night of hanukkah for this year and i feel like i've celebrated well.