January 7, 2007

Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, Come Light the Menorah...

(I wrote this entry a year ago, but our feelings are still the same…and the donuts are still as delicious and caloric as ever….)

Feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster. There are so many wonderful things about our new life in Israel. And yet, there are so many stresses to pull me down. Consider these amazing advantages:

* Jumping into the car at 11:00 am and driving south into the dramatic rocky desert with rolling mountains, tall dunes and deep rocky valleys. Climbing up to the ruins of a 2,000-year-old palace. We hiked around, jumped back in the car, downed a few slices of kosher pizza and were home by 8:00 p.m. (Yes, this was our tiyul to Masada.)

* Hanging out at Park Ra’anana in late December and watching my children run around in T-shirts. I sat on a bench reading the paper and then watched the sun dip behind the palms.

* Returning to Park Ra’anana because it’s so much fun and having my children clamber up a tree because climbing is exciting and because they are hungry for some plump perfectly round sweet oranges. On the way out, we shake a lime tree and bring a few home to squeeze onto dinner.

* Walking around on a Chanukah night and seeing menorahs in EVERYONE’S front window. Driving out of town and finding huge chanukiahs at town entrances, some electric, some with blazing torches, all proudly standing tall so every car can view them and remember the miracle.

* NEVER, NOT ONCE hearing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (I am a scrooge.) Blissfully happy to forget all about Frosty the Snowman knowing that, even if he turned up, he would he would turn into a puddle in a few seconds flat ‘cause it’s still warm here.

* Silent Night? December 24th was the precursor to a normal work day that was complete with a morning paper, rush hour traffic, school, line ups at the bank and mail. No pre-Xmas build-up – just the sighting of one chocolate Santa in a grocery store and a foil Xmas tree in a Russian book store in Kfar Saba.

* Sufganiyot? Forget the oily, puffy dough filled with a dab of jelly and smothered with icing sugar. Roladin Bakery here has brought this tradition to a new level. Their small donuts are filled with either white or dark Belgian chocolate and topped with a generous serving of chocolate and, if you wish, a sprinkling of hazelnuts to make this a rival for any truffle. If you are going to indulge in 400 calories (the calorie count of an average sufgania), you may as well do it in style.

* Going to the local garden centre and buying a large clay pot and then filling it with fragrant flowering lavender. I did this stam but also because I have never planted outdoors in January and lavender is just so beautiful -- and it is flourishing this time of year (as is the cyclamen, the hibiscus, the bougainvillea).

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