Thursday, December 13, 2007


Now for a little....



ha ha ha!


ah ha!


fa lalala la la la laa

..... and best of all:

Ooh la la...

We're off on a tryst to celebrate our anniversary this weekend.

Be back Monday....(wink)


Yes, there is simply no end to the creative ways people have found to celebrate Advent. For example; The Heights (scene of White Linen Nights in August) has Lights in the Heights, where entire neighborhoods decorate their homes with lights.

The houses are even judged, then one night (last Saturday) they had a neighborhood wide open house on the streets.

Each block has a one house with a band playing on the porch (Bernie and I danced a nice little fox trot together here).

Cookies are on tables out front...
...and the curb is lit up with luminaries stretching as far as the eye can see.
People filled the streets, strolling and visiting, and then...
A neighborhood parade began.

The dragon art car was my favorite.
Swing dancing anyone? These couples really had some wild moves, and each couple did a solo number too.
This house was amazing. How many motifs about Advent/Christmas can you see? Oh wait...the event is called "Lights in the Heights", it is about lights, electric lights, not The Light....
Pretty though. Just wanted to clarify what was going on here.

My co-worker Olia and her husband Bill were kind enought to invite the library staff to their home in the Heights. It was great to be able to park by their house, enjoy appetizers and mingles, then walk to the main display street.
It was 82 degrees by the way...shorts and tee shirts kind of weather....whew!

Then yesterday I started my *serious* Christmas shopping. The temperatures were dropping, and I needed a little Ho Ho Ho in my mojo. The mall is not my favorite place to be.

So...on the way to the mall I stopped by the east campus of Second Baptist (last that I heard it is the biggest single congregation in the USA each Sunday. They meet in four enormous buildings and the pastor speaks at one and the rest get a live feed to it.)

Each of the campuses are having a gingerbread house display. The various Sunday School classes and groups agreed to be assigned the task of re-creating one of the houses in Colonial Williamsburg in gingerbread.

There were two very large rooms filled with the houses.
What a wonderful scent!

Some were even decorated inside too.

They were each labeled with the name of the house, and a hand out gave the individual history of the Williamsburg house: who the original owner was, and how they fit into Williamsburg's history. Notice the little person peeking out the door!
There were ladies available to guide you through the village and to answer questions.

This was just one little part of the display. You can see that each house had a label with a bit of the history on a sign in the "snow" in front of the house.

I especially liked this door. I'm sure it isn't what is actually on the door in the house in Willamsburg though.
(And I have to say it...witnessing with waffles? Oy veh! And I got raise eyebrows for lighting Hanukkah candles?)
There are several huge gingerbread house displays in the Houston area. I hope to go see the ones down town in a hotel that are set up as an old western town display with cowboys shooting it out with the Indians. How Texas is that???
So tell me: What are you doing today to get into the Christmas Spirit?
What ever it is, I hope you are having fun!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hannukah: Eighth Candle

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given us holidays, customs and times of happiness to increase our knowledge of God and to build us up in our most holy faith.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our spiritual fathers in those days at this season.

Jesus said: Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the servant of all.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

The Eighth Candle and final candle
Revelation 21: 22-27 gives us a description of our glorious eternal dwelling place in the New Jerusalem, the new creation, the eighth day.

"And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it...

For the Glory of the Lord has illumined it,

...and its lamp is the Lamb.

And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of this earth shall bring their glory into it.

And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed;

and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come into it,

but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

May His Peace be upon us all as we wait and serve Him until then.

(Thank you to Rabbi Lauren for writing the Hannukah Candle lighting ceremony that I used these past posts.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hanukkah: Seventh Candle

Hi! Come in! I am so glad you could make it! Did you have a nice day? Here...let me take your coat. I like your hat!
Are you getting everything ready and done for Christmas? Hard to imagine only fifteen more days...
I got started on the Latkes already. They take a while to cook.
I use a recipe I got in my Cultural Aspects of Food class at Oregon State University back in 1977. At the time I noted that it was "only OK". Since we had to sample something like two dozen dishes each class, I suppose I was feeling a bit jaded at the time.

Latkes (pronounced Lot-Kahs or Lat-Keys if you are Jewish, and Po-Tah-Toe Pan-Cake if you are a gentile) are not actually a biblical historic Hanukkah food. Potatoes didn't grow in Israel, but once the Jewish people were dispersed, they used the foods that were available to them.

The idea, however, is to cook with oil during the celebrations, to remind us that the oil lasted right up until their was a new batch ready.

I like the touch of rosemary; the herb that is the symbol for remembrance you know.

I used my salad shooter to grate the potatoes and onions. Naturally the onions made me cry. If I had grated the potatoes by hand on a grater, I probably would have shredded my knuckles too.

Jewish women joke about this: They note that Christian women celebrate by baking sweet smelling cookies, while they, being Jews, are forced to remember the pain experienced by their people over the centuries as they grate their skin, burn their eyes with onion fumes, and get blistered from the hot oil splattering. (This is a joke, it is OK to laugh...they do!)

Lots of oil, lots of good smells...and it takes patience to wait for the latka to turn a perfect crisp golden brown.

Hey, let's listen to some music while we watch the latkas cooking!

Click here to help me watch the latkas cook for one minute as we listen to music and dance a tiny bit. Be sure your sound is turned up!

Want to sing along? The song is Isaiah 60: 1-2
Here's the words:

Kumi ori, ki va orech, (in English: Arise, shine for your Light has come)

Uch-vod Adonai alayich zarach (in English: The Glory of Lord has risen upon you.)

(repeat 4x)

Ki Hine ha-choshech yechase eretz (in English: Darkness covers the earth)

V'arafel le'umim (in English: See the darkness over the Nations)

Valayich yizach Adonai (In English: Over you the Lord will arise)

Uchvodo alayich y'raeh (In English: Over you will be seen His Glory)

(Song: Kumi Ori, words and music by Batya Segal. From CD entitled "Sh'Ma Yisrael")

I've got the table all set, now I just want to put the candles into the Chanakkiah.
Check out the candle boxes. Each of them spell Hanukkah differently. I guess if they put each of the seventeen ways the word could be spelled on each box, there wouldn't be any room left for pictures.

Hmmm, I think yellow, white and blue candles for tonight. The colors don't have any specific meaning.

By the way, did you see the comic in today's paper?

I am getting more and more curious about what the Chinese really know about our faith: Look where the candles were made:

And I think I'll be buying the Manischwitz candles from now on....

Well, it looks like everything is done. Will you please join us at the table?

We're having beef brisket in gravy, latkas, tomato slices, mixed greens salad and mandarin oranges (because I thought the orange slices looked like little flames...) The salad dressing is olive oil and vinegar, of course!

The bread is Challah, the three part braided bread made with egg and olive oil. I usually only make it on Friday nights, but I thought it would be nice to have tonight as well.

In our family, we like to eat latkas with apple sauce and sour cream.

I try to make the latkas very thin, so two latkas is about right for most people. They do have a lot of calories, so we just have them one of the Hanukkah nights.

Lovella, since you are now a grammie, you need to put on some weight to make a nice soft lap. Here, have another one. Sara, please pass Lovella the sour cream. There you go. That's better.

Now that we have finished eating, let's thank God for our food, like it says to in the Bible (Deuteronomy 8:10...a nice rule; that way the food doesn't get cold while we pray!)

Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who provides food from the earth to nourish us. We thank you for providing for all our needs, both physically and spiritually. We rejoice that tonight we feed on both physical and spiritual nourishment. Help us to remember to feed the hungry that you bring to us, and help us to give them both nourishment for their body and for their spirit as well, as we share the Good News of our Salvation. Amen.

It is dark out now...let's go ahead and light the Hanukkah candles. Please join me in saying the blessing over our celebration:

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this season.

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this season.

As we light the first candle, the Servant candle, we remember what Jesus said in Mark 10:44-45
Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the servant of all. for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

The Seventh Candle: The prophet Isaiah speaks of the future glory of a restored Israel in Isaiah 60: 1-5

"Arise, shine Jerusalem, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen over you. For although darkness covered the earth and thick darkness over the nations, on you Israel will the the Lord rise, over you will be seen His Glory.

Nations will go towards your Light, and kings towards your shining splendor. Raise your eyes and look around; they are assembling and coming to you; your sons are coming from far off, your daughters being carried on their nurses' hips.

Then you will see and be radiant. Your heart will throb and swell with delight; for the riches of the seas will be brought to you, the wealth of nations will come to you. Caravans of camels will cover your land, young camels from Midyan and Eifah, all of them coming from Sheba bringing gold and frankincense."

Wow. The first wise men visiting the Messiah in the manger were acting as small picture of the final scene, when the Lord returns to earth, to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. His light did shine over Israel at his birth, but oh how it will shine when HE returns.

While the candles burn we can play dreidel. Above are my favorite three dreidels. They are made from blown glass. The will never break because they have been tempered in high heat for a period of time. Hmmmm....another thought there.....about being made strong....

We'll let Bernie spin first, just to show you how it is done.

We'll play with the big wooden dreidel, because it is easier for everyone to see.

Spin...spin...spin....two chocolate coins are in the pot. If he gets gimel, he gets the whole pot!

Hay...Bernie gets half the pot. Gimel would be you get all the pot, Nun would be get nothing, and Shin would mean you have to put one of your own coins into the pot.

The letters stand for the phrase: A Miracle Happened There. Unless you are actually playing in Israel, in which case the letter stand for "A Miracle Happened Here."

Let's see how Tiggie does on his spin here.
And now Hart has his turn...I think Hart got gimel, then hay and then nun. But I am not sure...I don't think the cats are interested in chocolate coins anyway.

Next, Bernie and Tiggie have a song for us.
(I've seen them rehearse this number. Bernie sings, Tiggie dances. Watch for the part where Bernie "lifts" Tiggs as part of the dance.)

The candles are burning down. Are you ready for some dessert?

For dessert we'll be having more food that is cooked in oil; the traditional Hanukkah filled donuts!
(Are you starting to see why this traditional meal is enjoyed just once during the eight nights?)

So, what do you think of Hanukkah dinner?

Did you enjoy yourself? I hope so.

It has been so wonderful having you share our Hanukkah lights with us tonight.

Thank you so much for coming.

Have a safe trip home, and may God bless you in your travels.

(Humming "This little light of mine" together as we hug good bye.)