Hanukkah started Friday night. As is our family tradition, Karen's parents came over and we had pot roast and latkes.
As is also traditional, my in-laws asked, "so, when did you start eating sour cream on your latkes", unable to hide the faint note of disdain when mentioning the "s-c word". See, in Judaism, just as there are divisions among Reform, Conservative and Orthodox lines, there are divisions between the "Chanukah" and "Hanukkah" spellers and between applesauce and sour cream consumers when it comes to latkes. Karen grew up in an applesauce family, but we have come to embrace both traditions in an effort to unify the two movements.
Between the strict Applesauce In-laws and the Sour Cream/Applesauce Revisionists, we ate all our applesauce. Saturday morning I went to Kroger to get some more. As I entered the Canned Fruits aisle, I noticed two men who were apparantly friends who happened to meet there and had just finished a brief chat. One man said, "Merry Christmas" and the other said (with some hesitancy) "Happy Ha-holidays."
The man who received this uncertain wish then joined me in a search for applesauce. The shelves had clearly not been restocked after the pre-Ha-holiday rush on Friday. We had to get down on our knees and reach to the back of the bottom shelf to find the last few jars of the stuff. We exchanged some innocuous comments about the experience. It seemed obvious to me that, based on his friend's uncertain Ha-holiday wishes and our shared quest for latke toppings, that the man was Jewish. I thought that and yet failed to wish him a Happy Hanukkah, uncertain myself and afraid I'd be embarrassed if I was wrong.
So let me extend to all of you (whoever is still reading this far) a Merry Christmas and a Happy Ha-holidays.
Happy Hanukkah too.
PS: Our sour cream useage dates back to when Karen got our recipe for latkes from our friend Debbie Greenwood (who is also Susan's long-time best friend and a Nutrition Sciences educator and a caterer to the stars.)