I love it when Hanukkah starts on a weekend. It means we have the whole day to celebrate the occasion.
On the first morning of Hanukkah, the Hanukkah Bears brought Gingerbread houses to decorate.
But before we decorated, I tried a Lemon Ricotta with Blueberry Syrup recipe from the New York Times. We ate those while watching the World Cup Finals. If any of you were not following the story of the World Cup this year, I highly suggest you listen to the Podcast “The Last Cup”. Because of this podcast, I was really hoping Argentina would win. Everyone in the house, in fact, was betting for Argentina, except Sam.
The game did not disappoint, it was a nail biter that had us all screaming and jumping in our seats. In the end, Sam was made to wear the Messi Jersey as penitence.
After the game we got straight to decorating (our should I say eating?) our gingerbread houses.
That afternoon Adam brought the kids to the stores, buying last minute Hanukkah gifts of their choice. The Lego Store, the art store, as well as Amazon and Ebay were where most of the gifts were purchased.
For dinner I had grand plans for Latkes and many more laborious foods. In the end I stuck with Brisket, home made Challah, and Green Beans.
Not that the kids cared. Dinner is just an obstacle to lighting the candles and opening presents.
The boys all opened up Legos on the first night and quickly took over the dinning room table, building.
After bedtime, I snuck down and set up the Hanukkah Bears for the next morning.
Usually when I have a birthday, I blog about it right away. But turning 50 felt different. Unlike most years, I wasn’t sure what to say about it. Imagine me at a loss for words!
It seemed like the whole thing snuck up on me, much like the grey hairs on my head.
Most days I don’t feel any older than 28, but when I stop and think about each decade’s birthday, I realize just how much I’ve grown and changed.
I don’t remember my 20th birthday, but I do remember my 21st, as that was the milestone number of that decade. I was surrounded by college friends, many who I still am in contact with today. My roommate Holly is in the 21st photo and also in the 50th photo. Now, looking back, I realize how much of the world that 21 year old girl had yet to experience. The year after this birthday we all graduated college and scattered across the globe. I was already planning my move to Hong Kong, ready to start a new adventure.
On my 30th birthday I went to a work dinner at the Ritz Carlton in Shanghai with a co-worker who later became a good friend, JR (not pictured). Having just moved to Shanghai a month before, I hadn’t built the friend group yet needed to celebrate that milestone day with. I was yet again on the cusp on a new adventure with a new job, new city, new country, new life.
On my 40th birthday, Adam took me to Alinea. I had given birth to the twins 8 months before. Adam and I were celebrating a different type of adventure, the start of life with our complete family.
When I turned 50, I realized I was not on the cusp of a new adventure. I was in the middle of life. Or maybe past the middle? When my sister turned 50 she told me there was no more denying she was on the back side of the hill, heading down. I felt the same way. Most birthdays I look in the mirror and think, “Hey, I look pretty good for my age!”. This one I looked into the mirror, laid my palms flat against my cheeks and stretched them back and upwards.The small wrinkles that littered my face, pockmarking the sides of my mouth, disappeared. I turned to Adam and said, “Hey, do you remember this girl?“
Now that I’m 50 I can no longer hide the fact that I’m aging with tricks like Spanx and face paint.
I’m also not about to embark on some new exciting adventure in life. In fact, I feel like I’m smack dab in the middle of five other people’s adventure. And I’m just the hired help. Except the job is unpaid.
This does not mean that there weren’t legions of people making me feel special on this momentous day. Adam showered me with many thoughtful gifts like money, spa gift cards, a cookbook of a chef I admire, the cake I wanted, and more. My sister and father both spoiled me with more gift cards to all my favorite places, Lululemon, La Colombe, and Fit Foot Reflexology. My friend Laura sent me a gorgeous, expensive coffee sampler pack.
And my high school group of friends, with whom I often travel with, sent me gifts and arranged a zoom call for me to open the presents in front of them. They made a slideshow of all the photos they had of me. One of the gifts was a digital photo album which I will download the slideshow into. Another was a book with headlines for every year of my birthday. Did you know Nixon was president the year I was born?
We also did lots of Calisoff birthday rituals, like donuts for breakfast, and birthday dinner at Shine Restaurant.
In the end I did feel special, cherished, and loved. And really that is more important than chasing adventure, isn’t it?
Also, the party isn’t over yet. Just like most years we will continue to celebrate for the entire month. Adam still has more gifts for me which we will be revealed later in the month… stay tuned….