I Miss My Mom at Chanukah

No one makes latkes quite like she did

I Miss My Mom at Chanukah

When I was growing up and our neighbours were giddily anticipating Christmas, my Jewish siblings and I were anticipating Chanukah, the eight day Festival of Lights. 

Chanukah celebrates several miracles that happened more than twenty centuries ago when a small band of Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth. That victory was the first miracle. The second occurred when the triumphant little army tried to light the temple candelabra (menorah) with a small amount of olive oil. Instead of burning one night as expected, the menorah burned for eight straight days.

Why This Mom Is Making A Big Deal About Hannukkah

My brother and I were told this story every Chanukah as my mom lit our family menorah. We pretended to listen intently but we had two other miracles to focus on. 

The first was that for eight days each of us was given a gift at the close of the candle lighting ceremony. I tried to concentrate on how brave my people were but visions of dolls and chanukah gelt (chocolate gold coins) danced in my young head. 
Then there were the glorious potato latkes (potato pancakes) that my mother cooked for our family celebration. Chanukah customs include eating foods cooked in oil and my Jewish mother was renowned for her pancakes which were deep fried and fabulous. We stood around the stove as she worked her magic; we bickered about who would get the first glorious latke straight from the pan. All our friends begged for invitations to our Chanukah parties. No one was ever turned away.
With time my brother and I left the nest yet we always came back to celebrate Chanukah with our mother, now a loving Bubby (Jewish grandmother). As Bubby aged she could no longer prepare the full meal but the latke ritual remained hers alone. She had no recipe, she simply cooked by instinct. We grated the potatoes while she sat at the kitchen table and instructed us on how many eggs to add and  how much flour. When it came to the salt we handed her the shaker, she eyeballed our mixture and added just the right amount. 
When our lovely matriarch died at 94 she took that magic recipe with her. We've come close to replicating her latkes but somehow they never quite meet the standards that Bubby set. I believe that it was the love that she poured into anything she cooked for us that just can't ever be recreated.
Miss you, Mom!
Looking for holiday inspiration? Visit the YMC Holiday Guide to find everything from sweet treats and delicious dishes to DIY décor and favourite family movies. If it’s holiday related, you’ll find it here.

My Bucket List of Awesome Eccentric Stuff

As I get older the things left to do are becoming stranger

My Bucket List of Awesome Eccentric Stuff

It's a funny thing. As I get older my bucket list of things I still want to try seems to be shifting to the eccentric. I guess that's par for the course once you've lived seven decades and had the wonderful opportunity to try a lot of things. Seen the Eiffel Tower. Check!  Was there the moment two grandchildren were born, went to China to receive another. Check! Had my writing published in newspapers, mags, and online. Check!

I've already run a 10K race to celebrate my 65th birthday. I've lived on a farm and kept horses. My goal of circumnavigating the globe on the MV Explorer happened when I was 68 and I gave a keynote speech at a social media conference at 70.

But now the stuff I dream of doing seems to be changing. There's no longer a driving need for me to succeed. I simply hope to experience some offbeat stuff that I think will make my heart happy.


I want to be a clown and lead a parade. I want to be a volunteer policewoman and teach traffic safety to little ones in schools. I still want to study karate, and though I've tasted wine all over the world I yearn to pick the actual grapes during Fall harvest in Italy. I picture myself playing the flute deep in the Grand Canyon with eagles soaring overhead. I'm not kidding!

I'd love to believe that age doesn't matter and that nothing is impossible but I’m now much more acutely aware of my numbers and the passing of time. 

The reality is that at almost 73, my bucket list of 'awesome stuff' can no longer be written in stone. That would be folly because it will constantly have to be adjusted and readjusted, time and time again. Instead, I now carry my wishes in my heart and make changes as my dreams and the realities of my age collide.

I may have mucked out horse stalls at 40 but with each year I'm seeing that certain physical tasks are becoming more and more difficult. I know that I'd better not wait until 80 to do that grape picking in Italy. Instead, I'll save 80 for learning how to play the flute (and hope that there's a way to get down into the Canyon without actually killing myself).

And then here's my very important 'Bucket List Biggie'—it's one that has remained a constant amongst me and my friends. 

I know there'll come a day when I am truly 'old' and can no longer live on my own. My daughters needn't worry about caring for me though; Mama has the whole thing covered.

If I am mobile and if I can think relatively straight I'm moving in with my community of like-minded, old, eccentric women whose bucket lists are as wild and crazy as mine is. One thing is certain. We’re gonna rock that seniors joint!

P.S. Have you ever discussed bucket lists with your mom or the elder women in your family? Please do. I'll bet you'll uncover hopes and wishes you never knew about before.

P.P.S. I'd love to hear about your craziest (and not so crazy) bucket list dreams. C'mon, spill it!


Erica Ehm is Not My Real Daughter...

She must not be, since she fired me

Erica Ehm is Not My Real Daughter...

You might see a striking resemblance between us in these photos but I think my daughter, Erica Ehm and my real daughter were switched at birth. If this isn't the truth then why did she treat me this way?

I've been a good mom, baking five-minute chocolate cakes in a mug and guiding her through her formative years. True, I once grounded her from an Eagles concert but that was because her behaviour warranted it. Really!

Let me take you to the root of my complaint.

A couple of years ago, Erica (my pretend daughter) invited me to be the yummy grandmummy on her blogging team. I agreed and gave my posts a lot of attention. My stats showed that I was faring really well.

Then, because of my day job, I fell behind and started to post erratically. Next thing I knew I got the dreaded 'employer is fed-up' phone call.

Erica: Mommy why aren't you posting?

Me: Give me a break, Erica. This month I spoke at three conferences, travelled to Mongolia and Siberia on press trips, had 12 dinner parties, wrote three travel articles, and trained for a triathalon (all lies but hey I was trying to defend myself).

Erica: Mommy, I spoke to Sharon DeVellis and we both agreed. We need to fire you.

Me: That's it? You're firing your mom? Does Sharon hate me because I'm not a speed skater?

Erica: Sorry, Mom. Sharon DeVellis and I agreed. You. Are. Out.

So, with that one conversation it was over and I was left a broken yummy granny blogger.


Until now...

Two years later YMC Editor Ali Martell has invited me to join the blogging team once again (maybe she's my real daughter). I promised her I'd post more regularly.

But I'm going to need your help. Whether you agree with what I write or not, please comment on my blogs. 

That way my evil daughter will never, ever be able to fire me again.

P.S. Erica Ehm I love you fiercely! Sharon DeVellis, it's impossible not to love you, too.