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It was 18 years ago that Marc invited me to light the candles with him.  Now, after all those years, we light the candles with our children.  We also light the tree.

Light.

Whether from the sun, a candle, or a string of bulbs, light has a way of brightening up the darker days – providing that soft glow – especially as we approach the shortest day of the year tomorrow.

I hung a string of lights in our dining room.  I think I may leave them there year long, or at least three seasons out of the year.  There is just something about them that makes our house more of a home.

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah.  We lit our candles, sang some songs and played “I Have a Little Dreidel” on the piano.

I made latkes.

I’ve been making latkes once a year for the past several years.  Before I start to make them, I wonder why I don’t make them more often.  Then, I make them and remember why (they aren’t hard to make, but it’s a bigger project than I’m usually willing to take on).

I made a vegan version of latkes this year from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas – a very clever recipe that is held together by oatmeal.  And it worked so well! I chose to fry them in coconut oil – surely not a traditional oil that the Jews would have used, but they tasted great.  And, after reading a lot about oils in the past couple weeks, I felt comfortable frying with coconut oil.  They were delicious and I had a couple leftovers at lunch, saving a few for Daddy this evening.

Last weekend was productive on the kitchen front.  Marc made from scratch pizza (with leftover sauce!) and I made 5 and 1/2 quarts of vegetable stock from kitchen scraps I had been saving up in my freezer.  I used the homemade vegetable stock recipe from Feeding the Whole Family as a loose guide.

Do you see the color of the stock? I had two portobello mushroom stalks in the stock and I believe that is what made the color so rich and brown.  Great flavor, too.

After our pizza dinner, the kids and I sang some Christmas carols around the streets of our neighborhood.  This is one of the many reasons we love where we live – special community activities, meaningful memories…that we will all remember.  Next on our list is delivering a few gifts to the seniors on our street.

It’s been a really busy week for us, with last-minute decorating, shopping, baking.  I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Happy Hanukkah! May you light your lights with joy and peace.

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