If it's December, it must be time for holiday parties. Today I did a presentation on Hanukkah (I really prefer the spelling "Chanukah," but it's slightly less used) in Jarrah's classroom. Tomorrow, I'll be the dealer in a cutthroat game of dreidel, but today...today was all about the food.
The second I arrived, they were like "I smell fried chicken." I was like "That's 'cause you smell oil. Everything in oil smells like chicken." They were actually smelling potato latkes. I'd like to tell you that I toiled over a hot griddle, growing pink-cheeked with exertion as I grated, chopped, and fried. But I was actually pink-cheeked from dashing to Trader Joe's in the rain to buy them.
Not that I was off the hook, oh no. I had to go to two stores, bake the latkes, unpackage and then re-stuff the gelt into little bags, clean and prepare the menorahs and candles, pack up juice, plates, napkins, forks, applesauce, sour cream and a speech cobbled together from two hours of internet research (and a pep talk from my friend, Robyn, who's like a Chanukah Fellow she's done this gig so much) and then schlep it all up several hills. So I still think I deserve some pats on the back. (Instead I got a pile-on hug from 20 first graders when I sat with them on the rug--yikes!)
Some of my work was due to the fact that a super-super-nice mom in J's class went out and bought dreidels and gelt for every child and sent them with her son, and then you know what I did to show my gratitude? Left them somewhere on the way home. I dread tomorrow when I have to explain how lame I am. (I did my best to replace everything, of course.)
But once I was there, the hours of labor just melted away and I was stoked. Those kids are the best. And I swear I could have heard a pin drop when I got to the dramatic part of the story: "When they came back from the war, the temple was destroyed. Everything smashed. Broken. Dirty. And they had to start over." I also liked their theories for why we eat latkes: "Because potatoes are good nutrition." "Because war makes you hungry." "So we don't die of starvation." (The real reason, Dear Readers, is that we eat foods cooked in oil, since oil is the reason for the season.)
So am I a tiny bit looking forward to going back tomorrow? Caught me.
The opposite of today was the holiday party David and I went to in San Francisco last weekend. It was the Go-Pro holiday party at the Academy of Sciences aquarium. Just beautiful. I finally got to meet the dozens of people David hob-nobs with on his many trips to Half Moon Bay, and do it while surrounded by fish and sequins. The setting was so beautiful that it sort of overshadowed the food--three stations all characterized by the theme "piles of meat." Oh, and we arrived and departed in grand style: while waiting in the interminable taxi line, Tim spotted a limo across the street and flagged it down. It was very spontaneous and fun and only the second time I've ever been in a limo.
We also had the pleasure of staying at the historic Westin St. Francis in the center of Union Square, which was decked out for the holidays with a 12-foot sugar castle in the lobby, and an outdoor skating rink across the street. It was all lovely and festive. Union Square was mobbed day and night, but we did some exploring in other areas, too--my friend Lisa gave us a tour of the Haight (including our best meal of the trip at the memorably named Squat n' Gobble.) We met my brother and his family for dinner at the Ferry Building, and managed to fit eight of us around a tiny table in the packed Gott's Roadside (which David and I had fallen in love with in Napa years ago.) We went to see Young Adult (have to squeeze in a movie somewhere, though we had mixed feelings about it) and got lost with the charming Justin and Suzanne, who spotted us at the airport and offered a ride that ended up including the best view of the Golden Gate I'd ever had. On Sunday, we had a leisurely walk through Chinatown before catching a cab to the airport--arrived with perfect timing, too, had our plane not been an hour delayed.
It's a busy week we've returned to, as we still have the Daisies trip to Meals on Wheels headquarters and Jarrah's Winter Concert coming up. Stay tuned for further updates.