With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chapter Twenty: Hanukkah Happens

     "And one day Daniel ran off, to re-apply, hit the commune with a sigh..."

The next day Dan went back home.

"I don't know how long I'll be gone," he said as he was leaving.  "Hopefully it'll only take a few weeks, but when I get back, I'll be here legally and that's really important right now."

The timing wasn't too bad, given that most of the new winter structures were up.  Luna and Viv were working with the plants in the coldframes, hoophouses, and EcoGreenHouse, but the harvests were small and Sal was able to mostly handle the farm stand, with occasional help from Marge.  

On the other hand, Cat and Nancy were pretty busy with holiday sales on pies and breads and cakes.  Cat had created three new types of winter themed cupcakes including a latke flavored cupcake with an applesauce topping crowned with a dreidel.  It turned out that Cat had been raised in a Jewish household, as had Sal.

"Oh, dear," said Nancy to Cat.  "Sal has even stronger feelings about Christmas and Hanukkah than she did about Thanksgiving."

Luna was finding this out.  She had just started hanging evergreens around the house, thinking that they'd look festive.  Marge and Ken had been helping her.

Then Sal came by.

"Has it occurred to you that not everyone was raised Christian?" Sal said.

"Sure," replied Luna.  "I was figuring we'd have a Hanukkah celebration as well as a Christmas celebration.  And maybe we'd celebrate Solstice as well."

"Just like someone raised Christian.  You seem to think that Hanukkah and Christmas are equivalent holidays."

"Well, I don't," said Marge.  "I was raised in a mixed household.  My father was Catholic and my mom was Jewish.  We celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas every year but our big holiday was Pesach."

"Pesach?" asked Ken.

"Passover," said Marge.  "And I'm going to make sure that we celebrate it big here.  And if you're so Jewish identified, how come I've never seen you celebrate Shabbat?"

"Um," said Sal, "Uh, so why you don't celebrate Shabbat?"

"I'm pagan identified these days.  That's why I'm putting up evergreens.  What makes you think that they have anything to do with the birth of Christ?"

Sal was speechless.

"Look," Marge went on.  "I think we should celebrate Shabbat here, and Pesach and the Solstices and Beltane and Samhain and Christmas and Hanukkah.  Why not celebrate it all?"

"I'm for that," Luna said.

"Me, too," said Ken. "Even if I don't know what half of those celebrations were."

Sal sighed.  "Okay," she said.  "I guess we can celebrate it all."

   "And so the commune, and Luna Lagoon, lit the menorah and played with the dreidel..."

The first night of Hanukkah, Nancy and Marge created a spread that included a vegetable stir-fry and lots of latkes and applesauce and sour cream.  Marge also made blintzes.  And, besides latke cupcakes, Cat made rugelach and special jam filled doughnuts.

Ed and Ralph came a little early and brought apple fritters.  Peter arrived shortly before dinner.

"Contrary to the rumors around here, I'm not Jewish," Peter said.  "I'm actually a Lutheran from the Midwest but, hey, I'm up for any celebration, particularly if it involves good food.  And this food looks truly amazing."

"Well, you can't eat yet," Marge said.  She started motioning for people to come around the table holding the menorah.  When everyone was gathered, she lit the tallest candle on the menorah.  "This is the shamash, the servant candle."

Then Ken (who was the youngest one there) used the shamash to light one more candle.  People stood admiring the light for a while and then Sal took the menorah and moved it to a table by the front window.  "I'd like to see Hillary Reagon complain about that," she said.

Then people slowly moved over to the table.  Everyone held hands for a minute before people began devouring the food.

"So good," Viv said.

"I miss Dan," Nancy said. "I wish he could be here."  She turned to Luna.  "Have you heard anything from him?"

"Just that he got home okay," Luna said.  "I have no idea how long it's going to take for him to get a green card."

When people had finished, everyone helped clean up and get the dishes washed and dried.  Then Sal and Marge brought out dreidels and gelt (chocolate coins).  Together they gave lessons in dreidel spinning and gambling to everyone still hanging out.  Then they divided the gelt among those that wanted to play and the spinning began.

For a while it looked like Ralph was going to be the big winner of the night, but then Cat, who had seemed to be holding back, began raking up the geld taking most of Ralph's stash away from him.  

In fact, Cat at one point had almost of the geld, but then held up the stash of chocolate coins, waving them in front of everyone.  "This game is just not fun when you have all the coins."  With a toss of the wrist, geld went everywhere and the participants scrambled to pick it up.  Then the games started all over again.

Finally, people began cleaning up and heading for bed.

"It's so nice to have a night when we just get to have fun," Nancy said.  "Happy hanukkah everyone!"

"Happy hanukkah," Sal said, and she looked tired and happy.

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