From Generation to Generation, Latke to Latke
AlamyYou never know when you peel that tenth pound of potatoes for Hanukkah latkes where it's all going to end up. Short term, a latke or two, still sizzling from the pan, will be snatched up by family members drawn to the kitchen by the unmistakable aroma of oil, onion, and potato. Most of those potatoes-turned-latkes end up piled high on platters where they are dolloped with sour cream or applesauce and then downed in ecstasy. And then of course, if you're Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary Tyler Moore's sidekick, all those latkes end up on your hips.
This year, where it all ended up was on the other side of the country -- California to be exact. My son threw his first Hanukkah party for his friends. Eighteen of them arrived on the fifth night of Hanukkah, bearing shopping bags filled with side dishes, desserts and drinks.
Out at another Hanukkah party, I had missed his call. He wanted my latke recipe. By the time we connected, it was too late; he had solved the problem the way his generation solves everything -- he downloaded a recipe from the internet.
The next morning, we got a full report: Our son and his friends created a lot of spirit. More than one friend told him it had been years since they'd attended a Hanukkah party. Away from family, not in a community or too distracted to make time, this party was the first opportunity in a long while many had lighted a menorah and sang the blessings recalling the Maccabees' ancient battle against the Greco-Syrians for religious freedom. By the end of the evening, not a latke was left. And since these are young people we are talking about, none of it went to their hips.
All those years ago, when I was making latkes, wrapping Hanukkah presents and telling the story of the Maccabees, I hoped, but couldn't be sure, what my kids would take from our table. Sour cream or applesauce, there is no taste sweeter than knowing your offspring are carrying on the tradition.
Debra Darvick is the author of This Jewish Life: Stories of Discovery, Connection, and Joy and I Love Jewish Faces. Debra has contributed to several anthologies about Jewish life and was chosen as Real Simple's Reader of the Month (for September). Read her blog on Red Room.
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