We like to go crazy around the holidays and use every excuse we can find to praise the Lord. Hanukkah gives us eight extra days of celebration and more chances to sit around the table together as a family, eating delicious foods, talking about how thankful we are for God’s miracles. If you are looking for ways to add more meaning to Christmas, you could sprinkle Advent in and create your own Hanukkah-Advent-Christmas tradition. This year – what a blessing – Hanukkah wraps up on Christmas eve. Talk about worthwhile miracles!
Speaking of miracles… I have a few I could talk about that have happened to us lately.
::: A friend buying us pizza dinner on a night I just couldn’t imagine cooking :::
::: A gift from a friend I wasn’t expecting :::
::: My aunt leaving a sack of groceries on my steps :::
::: Family members getting well so we can go see them over the holidays :::
::: Being blessed with a couple of presents for my kids that they were delighted to open on the first two nights of Hanukkah :::
And listen to this one:
::: Walking in to pick up my car after nearly $700 worth of auto repair to find that the tab had been taken care of by an anonymous donor. YES. That’s right. Nearly $700 worth of “PRAISE THE LORD”. :::
How can you not want to pay it forward after a gift like that? If that wasn’t the Christmas spirit mingled with the miracles of God which we celebrate at Hanukkah, I’m not sure what you could call it.
This Christmas my family will be able to travel to see grandma and grandpa because of someone else’s generosity. They know who they are. God does, too. I’m pretty sure He’s up there filling their mansions in heaven with golden treasure that will not rust or fade away.
But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. ~ Matthew 6:3 (NLT)
Another wonderful turn of events happened today when we took my daughter in to see her natural doctor. She’s been having all sorts of ailments that are hard to pin down. She was diagnosed with a really bad systemic candida overgrowth that has messed her body functions up pretty seriously. This means a lot of difficult eating choices for her in the future — a lot less of her favorite foods: potatoes, corn, and dairy… and sugar, and peanuts, and hummus (chick peas), and chocolate, and caffeine, and fruit, and honey, and packaged meats like her favorite little sausages from Natural Grocers that have no nitrites, and pretty much everything else that tastes good or has any form of sugar in it – even lactose. Oh. And wheat (which we weren’t eating much of anyway). Can you even imagine this type of diet crashing in to your life right before Christmas?
Why was this wonderful, you ask? Well, because she’s been worried that she’s got severe endometriosis or cancer or worse. And Candida is curable. Even if it takes a lot of discipline and attention to dietary details. I’d much rather take a strict diet and keep my sweet daughter around for all the rest of my holidays to come. Everything can be a blessing if you look for those silver linings, right?!
This has thrown a little wrench in our holiday eating, though… to say the least. Poor Mo. Tonight she couldn’t have a matzo ball in her matzo ball soup. She wasn’t supposed to eat any of the Cranberry Pineapple Apple Upside Down Dump Cake. I felt so sorry for her trying so hard… that I let her clean her brother’s plate after he didn’t eat his portion (he doesn’t like cranberries).
I’m not helping her much if I’m tempting her to cheat her new diet on the FIRST DAY. Oy.
Anyway, needless to say, our Hanukkah menu will need a little tweaking after this morning’s diagnosis. Have any favorite healthy Hanukkah or Christmas holiday meal ideas to share? Here’s the holy grail recipe I’m looking for: something to substitute for our corn tortillas… because how do you make a cheese enchilada with no corn tortilla or cheese? The child is going to lose her mind if I make enchiladas at Christmas and she has to watch everyone eat them.
About Hanukkah… we did it a little different this year. I guess we get a little leeway since we are Christians and started celebrating Hanukkah last year – flying by the seat of our pants. We were much more formal last year as we were learning about the holiday. We did the long history lessons, reading written prayers, devotionals and such. This year we put our own twist on things and decided to light ALL of the candles on the menorah on each night. Each of us get to light a candle and we are doing a different type of menorah and a different devo and discussion each night.
On the first night, we talked about the history of Hanukkah and how God still does miracles – big and small. Each of us went around and stated a miracle that God has blessed our family with this year before lighting a candle. Since we only have six people and we have 9 candles to go, we all helped each other think of good ones for the last three. The second night we lit each candle and talked about how each one of us is a miracle and God loves us, and we talked about what we love about each person in our family. We lit the first candle for Jesus, then each of our family, then two grandparents with the extra two candles we had left.
Tomorrow, we are making our own Lego menorah – and we’re making a Hanukkah menorah dessert to take to our Christmas party. We’ll “light our candles” with Lego flame pieces. That will be a lot less clean up: read – NO MELTING WAX INVOLVED. I haven’t figured out yet what we’ll talk about as we do the prayers and devotional, though. I’ll be praying about that as I fall into bed exhausted tonight. (I’m anxious to be reunited with my pillow…)
The cooking for Hanukkah is wonderful, but requires more planning and more dishes than I would normally cook in one night… and EIGHT days of feasting. Yesterday we had a baked chicken, roasted broccoli, green beans, and carrot-potato latkes… and my daughter made her yummy butter-cinnamon apples. Tonight I used the broth I made from yesterday’s chicken to make Matzo Ball soup with… and we had our dump cake and sparkling pomegranate juice with it. WAY more sugar than we usually eat around here, but it is the holidays…
From what I gather, fried foods are a highlight of Hanukkah because of the miracle of God keeping the oil burning for eight days when there was only enough oil for one day. I’m here to tell you, that I can’t imagine eating fried foods for eight straight days. It would be a miracle if we didn’t get sick after that! What an excuse to make donuts, onion rings, fritters, and potato pancakes, though! Jewish people are awesome.
Alright…. I must sleep. It is an unwritten rule for Hanukkah that the cook must rest. OK, I made that up… but it makes sense to me. Happy holidays to you and yours… and check back with me later this week for more Hanukkah meal plan updates. Maybe there are some fellow healthy-eaters out there who can steer us in the right culinary direction … ? I’d love tips on Paleoish, Weston Price-ish, Candida Diet-ish alternatives to holiday favorites!