It strikes me that you, dear reader, might be interested in hearing a bit about how a two-household family splits time with the children during a big holiday season. The wrinkle is that that I don’t celebrate Christmas, per se, but instead have brought my own Jewish traditions of Hannukah into the family instead. That makes holidays pretty easy in that there’s never a conflict over who has the children Christmas Eve or Christmas morning because, well, it’s just generally understood in our family that it’s Mom time.
Last year, 2016, was complicated, though, because for the first time in memory, Hannukah actually started on Christmas eve. Who planned that? Ended up complicated but this year Hannukah started at sunset on Dec 12, so it was considerably less hassle. Well, other than the fact that my youngest, K-, had an away basketball game up in the Rockies and we didn’t actually get home until 10pm or so. My decision was to simply postpone our first night of Hannukah until the following evening. Then we lit the candles, the girls said the blessing, and I whipped up a big batch of vegan latkes.
Tip: Either skip adding an egg or use a vegan egg replacement and you’re good to go. Our latkes are getting simpler and simpler over the years too, this time it was shredded potatoes and finely chopped onions. Nothing else, just fried in vegetable oil and ready to eat in just a few minutes!
Anyway, it was a bit lonely to know that I yet again was facing the prospect of Christmas eve & Christmas flying solo, so I did something about it: The evening before I invited a bunch of guys over and we had Chinese food and watched the brilliant Dunkirk while sampling some traditional Southern bourbon drinks. Quite pleasant!
Christmas day I headed over to a friend’s house and, for the third Christmas in a row, shared some games and an evening meal with two single moms and their college-age boys. We had talked about playing Cards Against Humanity but that didn’t seem very “Christmas-y” so switched instead to a surprisingly fast-paced and laughter-filled elimination game of Rat-a-Tat-Cat. I’d picked up some crab-stuffed salmon at the market the day before so that was my meal (and it was delicious). Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffees all around, and a very pleasant evening.
The day after Christmas the kids finally made it back to my place and we then had a sort of second-round Hannukah/Christmas since my son wasn’t able to join us on the 13th when we had officially lit the menorah, etc. A modest gift exchange [turns out Hannukah is a fairly minor holiday for Jewish folk, and we never celebrated much when I was growing up] and a traditional family game of Monopoly that ended early when the drama got rather unbearable, followed instead by a movie.
Obviously, families where both Mom and Dad celebrate Christmas are more complicated from a scheduling perspective, but what I see happen a lot is Christmas Eve with one family, then a switch late morning on Christmas day to the other. Optimal? Not really, but if you’re not in a place where you can all celebrate together, that might be the best you can do.
Regardless, I hope your holiday celebrations with your family were fun and relaxing, whether you’re a Kwanzaa fan, celebrate Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hannukah or Festivus!
I highly recommend adding some salt & pepper to your latke batter. Especially salt. Makes a huge difference in bringing out the flavor!
Also if you first lay out a clean dishtowel and place the potato/onion mixture on half of it, fold over and squeeze as much water as you can out, it will splatter less when frying. And, keep the dishtowel far away from the stove with the hot oil. No one wants a house fire for Hanukkah.
Hope your holidays were happy!