And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!
–Fiddler on the Roof
I’m not sure that the quote above has anything to do with what I’m going to write about, but when I hear the word “tradition”, the first thing that pops into my mind is Fiddler on the Roof.
The other funny thing about that quote above is that I’m all about trying new things: if I didn’t, I would never have started to cook, to bake, to paint, to knit, to do yoga, and, of course, run.
Sometimes, I am too scared to try new things, I’ll admit it. Tough mudders. Spartan. I’m not really sure I’m scared, so much, as they just don’t sound appealing to me.
I once bought rowing lessons and only did about half the class. I did try it. It always looked so cool, to be rowing on Town Lake. I found it to be scary, though. I haven’t yet tried kayaking or SUP, either, even though I want to.
Unlike most of you, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is my time to breathe a sigh of relief. Serious running is over. There might be a holiday party or two, and then again, there might not.
Hannukah is not a very important holiday on the Jewish calendar, even though most Christians assume that it is because of its proximity to Christmas.
Our Hannukah traditions are simple: we do light the menorah each night. I sing the blessing over the candles the first and last night, and usually just say it the rest of the nights.
The menorah we use is a simple plastic one that I was gifted from the Temple for singing in junior choir until I graduated high school, so it has great sentimental value to me. The choir director is still alive, but she’s even older than my parents and quite frail. Her husband, the rabbi who married us, has been gone many years now.
We exchange small gifts, but rarely one every night. One of my husband’s hobbies is photography, and the very first year we were married I gave him an Ansel Adams wall calendar. And 30 years later, it’s become a tradition. He expects it, of course, but I always switch up which night I give it to him.
We almost always (but not always) have potato latkes (pancakes) at some point during the week. Sometimes we make them, but quite frankly it’s a chore, so more often I buy some.
And my last tradition in the holiday season, which has nothing to do with Hannukah, is running Last Run. It starts in downtown Albany with fireworks, and then you run through the lights in Washington Park. Even this Jew enjoys that.
Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
— W. Somerset Maugham