As I make mondel bread in preparation for Hanukkah festivities, I'm surrounded by the love infused in my soul by my parents. I saw Mom looking in the bowl as I mixed the thick batter and utter her age-old comment: 'Looks too wet to me. Add more flour.' So I did.
When it came time to lick the bowl, I was surprised to be overcome with welled eyes. Mom always was my 'helper' in the kitchen and could be counted on for a good bowl cleaning. Today, I had Sharyn, John and 5 dogs helping. I spread my fingers out and all the dogs had a lick of the sticky batter. Sharyn had the beater and John awaited the final product.
As I put the golden pieces warm from the oven into the sugar/cinnamon mixture, I again welled up - Who will eat the ends? For all the years my folks were with me, I always put the ends aside for my Dad. He would be in the kitchen when the cookies came out of the oven and stayed there until a few cookie ends were dipped in a fresh cup of coffee. I see his eyes look at me and I feel his love again as it washes over me.
As I'm surrounded by the best friends on earth this Hanukkah season, I know that, although my parents are no longer physically with me, they are as with me in spirit as they ever were. When people express their sympathy at Mom's passing with a simple 'I'm sorry for your loss,' my reply is always 'We had a nice long run with her.' And we did. We had a nice long run with both of them.
So, as the brisket awaits entry to the oven and potatoes are cleaned and ready for their transformation into potato latkes this Chanukah season, I shall be surrounded at the dinner table by the best friends on earth - the very people who so sustained my Mom and me those last years. The friends who I've chosen to become family.
And, I know who will eat the ends. Tonight, we all will.