Sunday, December 21, 2014

Unforgettable Christmas

I love Christmas. It's a great holiday! The only reason I have been doing my "Forgotten Holiday" series is because there are seven holidays that get lost in the power of Christmas. Even if you don't actually celebrate Christmas, you can't forget about it.

If you celebrate Christmas you probably have a favorite memory or Christmas thing. My favorite is Angels. However, I do love almost anything that is a symbol of Christmas. I like to say there are two types of Christmas, the commercial Christmas and the religious Christmas. Most people use a mix of both. After Zach was born I have found myself more drawn to the Nativity, Angels, and Star of Bethlehem that represent the religious side of Christmas. Perhaps it's because one of my strongest childhood Christmas memories is playing Mary in the church Pageant at 13.

This particular Christmas marks a marriage milestone. For ten years Josh's Mom, Josh's Aunt and I have had a running joke about the Spitzbuban recipe. It's from Josh's Dad's side of the family. Josh's Aunt didn't give the recipe to his Mom until his parents were married for ten years. I got the recipe on our Anniversary this past October. It's delicious and Josh's favorite. But it's hard to make so his Mom just makes one batch. This year, I made my first batch.

I saved the very first one for Josh. Both Josh and his Dad agree that it tastes like Josh's Mom makes them. She was impressed too. That's apparently hard to do on the first try. Josh got a small tin of nothing but Spitzbuban's just for him! Zach loves these cookies too and was also happy to see I made them. We have a small tin for when we see his Aunt on Christmas Eve. I know she'll be proud of me. She almost caved and gave the recipe to me early the last few years. But I'm glad we waited for the ten year mark. It makes it special. It will make this Christmas unforgettable for both me and Josh.

In December, you can't turn around without seeing something for Christmas. For me that's actually literal. My December house decorations are all about Christmas. But I also carry those decorations with me in a way. You might remember that I started making jewelry with embroidery thread this past summer. It was a teenage hobby I have rediscovered. Most of the bracelets I have made for myself are for the months and the seasons. My seasonal bracelets have four colors, one for the whole season and one for each of the months. The monthly bracelets have two colors. The first is that color for that month in the seasonal bracelet. The other represents some other monthly theme. I am looking at the red and green for December as I type this.

Christmas is unforgettable. I still see people with Christmas decorations up in March each year! Even if you don't celebrate Christmas there is probably some experience you had or something you saw that you won't forget. If you're a small child, you are probably just having those experiences. My unforgettable Christmas was Zach's first. He was six month's old.

It wasn't actually Christmas yet. Since he was a baby, we decided to put the presents under the tree after they were wrapped. That proved to be the motivation Zach needed to learn how to crawl. It started with him pushing backwards. Eventually, he also learned how to push himself around into a different direction before pushing himself backwards. When I caught him, I would put him back in his play gym. On one attempt he pushed himself backwards between the L shaped couch and the coffee table. Eventually, he made it and started with the bag in the below picture.


Our first day with the Tree. This is when it was lit that night.

His first attempt to crawl

Ironic that his first bag said "Dear Santa, Define good"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not Named

Out of the blue today I found myself thinking about Kyron Horman. He's been missing since June 4, 2010 from his Elementary school in Oregon. The prime suspect remains his former Step-Mom, Tracy Horman.

http://www.bringkyronhome.org/

That got me thinking about this other article I read a few years ago. There was a serial killer in the 70s. He killed a bunch of teenage boys. He was arrested but I forget the name of the killer. In the article, they posted pictures of the three remaining boys that hadn't been identified over the years. The pictures were computer generated with what they most likely looked when alive. It's been a few years since that article but I never saw a follow-up article. Have they been identified? I can't even find that article I read in the first place. At the time, it was an aol feature with the picture next to the title. But they remain to the public not named.

That got me thinking about those not named in National media. Perhaps they are mentioned in local media, but their stories aren't considered "special" enough for national media. We read a lot about Yeardly Love and George Huguely. In May of 2010 Huguely threw Love against a wall during a fight killing her. He had an abusive past. They had an on again/off again relationship and he was abusive to her.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/yeardley-loves-family-worried-george-huguelys-violent-past/story?id=17278322

But what about the victims of domestic violence that DON'T make the news? 1.3 million women a year experience domestic violence. There might be a lot of articles on domestic violence and it's victims, but there aren't any where near a million in the news each year. And that only takes into the attacks that are reported! No one names the victims that don't name themselves. Domestic violence is a big issue, why aren't ALL victims treated like those that make the news? How many domestic violence victims don't get non-local candlelight vigils because their story wasn't impressive enough to be in the news? I might not know your name, but this is a show of support for those forgotten in the media.

http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics--facts-52.html

We can't forget missing people. In 2013 there were over 260,000 reported missing kids under 18. I read a lot of articles about missing kids. When a friend posts a picture of a missing kid on facebook, I share it. I did a separate blog post on missing people. in June of 2013.

http://homewithmommy-fran.blogspot.com/2013/06/missing-people.html

But I can only mention those I read about. There weren't over 260,000 missing people mentioned in national news last year. Missing people are more likely to make the news then domestic violence victims. It makes it easier for them to be found. But I know there are many missing people I haven't read about. Why? Because they are more likely to still be local? I have read a lot of stories of missing people found locally. The searches stay local too. Why are their stories special enough for the national news and not others?

What about murders? Mass murders are defined by four or more people. That averages 16.4 mass shootings a year. I don't count so it is possible all of them made national news. But did all of the victims? We can find a list of names. But only the "attention grabbers" like children are talked about in more detail in the national news.

As for non-mass murders, there were over 14,000 last year. I didn't read about 14,000 murders. I have read about many, but I doubt the number reached 14,000. Murder is a big deal, why were some considered more "report worthy" then others?

http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/mass-murder-shooting-sprees-and-rampage-violence-research-roundup#

http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2014/november/crime-statistics-for-2013-released/crime-statistics-for-2013-released

I don't know the names of the victims of violent crimes I am posting about. Even if their name is posted in a victim list of a mass shooting, their name gets lost by those names who's lives are talked about. I want to learn about the lives of the unnamed. I want to know their stories too. Because they should never experienced what they experienced. We can't find a real way to prevent violent crimes when they aren't all treated like the very sad and senseless things they are. Some violent crimes are a bigger deal then others. What message does that send? Either "you might get away with it" or "the more you kill, the more famous you'll be". Neither are good messages.

We need a nationwide general vigil. A candlelight vigil for ALL victims of violent crimes. Even if you don't personally know anyone who is a victim. Even if you don't know someone who knows someone who is a victim, there are too many out there not named. Even if they survived, we need to remember them.

There might be another Kyron or Yeardly out there. If so, they, along with their families, are in my thoughts an prayers. I might not have been told your story, but it's just as important as the stories I have been told. There are too many of these stories to be ignored. I remember Kyron. I remember Yeardly. I think of those not named, and wish they were named too. I'll remember them anyway.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Forgotten Holidays: Hanukkah (part 5)

 נ Nun - nothing
 ג Gimel - all
ה Hei - half
ש Shin - put in or
פ Pei in Israel

Those are the four sides of the dreidel.  Nun Gimel Hei Shin is the acronym for "a great miracle happened there" Nun Gimel Hei Pei is an acronym for "a great miracle happened here". The chocolate coins we see in stores are called "gelt" and used in playing the game Dreidel.

Hanukkah 2014: Tuesday, December 16th - Wednesday, December 24th


Rules to play Dreidel:

Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces (usually 10–15). The game pieces can be any object, such as chocolate gelt, pennies, or raisins.
  • At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center "pot". In addition, every time the pot is empty and sometimes if it has one game piece left, every player puts one in the pot.
  • Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn. Depending on which player side is facing up when it stops spinning, they give or take game pieces from the pot:
    • a) If נ (nun) is facing up, the player does nothing.
    • b) If ג (gimel) is facing up, the player gets everything in the pot.
    • c) If ה (hei) is facing up, the player gets half of the pieces in the pot. (If there are an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes the half the pot rounded up to the nearest whole number)
    • d) If ש (shin) or פ (pei) is facing up, the player adds a game piece to the pot (often accompanied with the chant "Shin, Shin, put one in"[5]). In some game versions a Shin results in adding three game pieces to the pot (one for each stem of the Shin). This alternative version increases the overall fairness of the game.
  • If the player is out of pieces, they are either "out" or may ask another player for a "loan".[6]
 
 
 
                               Latkes
 
                                                                     Ingredients:
                                                       1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled
                                          1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
                                                                 1 large egg
                                           Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
                                               1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable oil for frying 
                                                         Sour cream for serving
                                                         Applesauce for serving

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 200°F. Put a paper-towel-lined rimmed baking sheet on the rack.
 
Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the potatoes into the water, or grate onto a cutting board and then immediately put them in the water.
 
Line a colander with cheesecloth and set it in the sink. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the colander; reserve the bowl of water. Gather the cheesecloth into a bundle and squeeze firmly until the potatoes stop giving off liquid.
 
Transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl and using your hands, mix in the onion, egg, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
 
Carefully pour off the reserved potato soaking water to get to the white gluey starch on the bottom of the bowl. Transfer the starch to the potato mixture and mix it in with your hands.
 
Add enough oil to a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, to measure 1/8 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a potato strand dropped in it sizzles vigorously.
 
Scoop 1/4 cup of the potato mixture onto a slotted metal spatula and use the bottom of the measuring cup to press it until it’s about 1/4 inch thick, letting any excess liquid fall into a small bowl. Don’t worry if the latke is not perfectly round. Slide it into the oil.
 
Make 1 or 2 more latkes for the first batch and fry, flipping once, until they’re golden-brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, stirring it between batches. Serve immediately or cool and freeze for up to 1 week and reheat in a single layer, uncovered, in a 300°F oven.

nutrition information (per serving):  Calories (kcal): 180; Fat (g): fat g 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 23; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 300; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 45; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;
 
Fine Cooking December 2013/January 2014


The Story of Hanukkah:

About 200 BC Israel was a state in the Seleucid Empire (an empire ruled under Greek law) and under the overall charge of the King of Syria. However, they could follow their own religion and its practices. In 171 BC, There was a new King called Antiochus IV, who also called himself Antiochus Epiphanes which means 'Antiochus the visible god'. Antiochus wanted all the empire to follow Greek ways of life and the Greek religion with all its gods. Some of the Jews wanted to be more Greek, but most wanted to stay Jewish.

The brother of the Jewish high priest wanted to be more Greek, so he bribed Antiochus so he would become the new High Priest instead of his brother and then he had his brother killed! Three years later another man bribed Antiochus even more to let him become the High Priest! To pay his bribe he stole some of the objects made of gold that were used in the Jewish Temple.

On his way home from having to retreat from a battle, Antiochus stopped in Jerusalem and he let out all his anger on the city and the Jewish people. He ordered houses to be burned down and tens of thousands of Jews were killed or put into slavery. Antiochus then went to attack the Jewish Temple, the most important building in Israel to Jews. The Syrian soldiers took all the treasures out of the temple and on 15 Kivlev 168 BC Antiochus put up a status of the Greek god Zeus in the center of the Jewish Temple (but it had the face of Antiochus!). Then on 25 Kivlev he desecrated the most holy place in the temple and destroyed the Jewish holy scrolls.

Antiochus then banned practicing the Jewish faith & religion (if you were found out you and all your family were killed) and made the Temple into a shrine to Zeus. There were many Jews killed for their faith. Soon afterwards a Jewish rebellion started.

It began when a 'former' Jewish Priest, called Mattathias, was forced to make an offering to Zeus in his village. He refused to do so and killed a Syrian Soldier! Mattathias's sons joined him and killed the other soldiers in the village. Mattathias was an old man and died soon after this, but his son Judah then took charge of the freedom fighters. Judah's nickname was 'Maccabee' which come from the Hebrew word for hammer. He and his troops lived in caves and fought an undercover war for three years. They then met the Syrians in open battle and defeated them.

When they got back to Jerusalem, the Temple was in ruins and the statue of Zeus/Antiochus was still standing. They cleaned the Temple. They rebuilt the Jewish alter and on 25 Kivlev 165 BC, exactly three years after the statue was put up, the alter and Temple was rededicated to God.

There are several theories about why Hanukkah is celebrated over eight nights. One legend says that when Judah and his followers went into the Temple there was only enough oil to burn for one night, but that it burned for eight nights. Another story says that they found eight iron spears and put candles of them and used them for lighting in the Temple.

http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/hanukkah.shtml

 
 
                                                       
 
 
                                                   



                                                  

                                                 


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Dreidel
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Gimel
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