holiday traditions and musical interludes



Guitars reflected in a silver ball at the music store.

A few nights ago, John had a company party to go to, so the kids and I started in on the evening routine without him. Inspired by having sampled some delicious latkes at Phoebe’s class holiday party on Monday (which included both Christmas and Hanukkah treats and activities), and having just bought a big bag of potatoes, I decided I would try my hand at making latkes. (Wow, that was a really long sentence.) Anyhow, I made latkes, in honor of Hanukkah. I consulted the great oracle of Google, and got down to business peeling and grating. I have to say, I made some pretty tasty latkes.

The whole process also took probably longer than I’d intended, and it was after 6 by the time the kids and I sat down to eat our meal of latkes, fried eggs, latkes, steamed broccoli, and more latkes. (Phoebe declared the meal so delicious that she high-fived me.) I may have eaten far, far too many latkes. (From what I understand, that is also a Hanukkah tradition.)

After dinner, it was time for Phoebe and I to practice the violin. John usually takes Theo upstairs to start his shower while Phoebe and I practice downstairs. Since John wasn’t home yet, I thought Theo could keep us company in the parlor, which is where we always practice. (Really, some people my call it the living room. But when we moved into this house, we declared the “family room” to be our “living room,” and the official “living room” became the parlor. I like the word parlor. I mean, who would remember something like “‘step into my living room,’ said the spider to the fly.” Not that this is how the actual quote from the poem went. It’s just what people remember. I mean, with “parlor,” in place of “living room.” I suppose “den” might have also worked, for the spider, at least. But not for our house. We have a parlor.) The parlor is also where we have our Christmas tree. (I mention this, because this will be relevant shortly.) (Notice my subtle attempt at foreshadowing.)

When Phoebe and I practice her violin exercises together, we both sit on the floor. However, I had just bought myself a book of Christmas songs for the violin, and since Phoebe putters around a lot as she sets up her violin, I sat in a chair so I could set the book in my music stand, and played a bit. Theo was hanging an ornament he had made at daycare on the tree. Phoebe sat on the floor, opened up her violin case, and then suddenly wandered off to look at her gingerbread house. At that moment, Theo stepped back to look at his ornament on tree…and stepped directly onto Phoebe’s violin.

I’m not sure what noise escaped from me as I looked up and saw his foot land on the neck of Phoebe’s little quarter-sized violin (I think it was some sort of squeak), but I remember the exceedingly alarmed look on Theo’s face. I jumped up, and hurriedly set down my own violin. The trouble is, you can’t really hurriedly set down a violin. I basically dropped it. It made a loud crack and thwong noise as a couple of the pegs hit the coffee table and came unwound. I may have made additional noises.

Both children wailed.

In the end, I was able to assess that both violins were pretty much okay, if seriously out of tune. Happily, Theo managed to step on one of the less fragile parts of the instrument, and his weight was probably somewhat taken by the case, since the violin was still in it. He still felt awful. And so did Phoebe, for having left her violin open and on the floor. And so did I, for not having been paying enough attention to the actions of my small children around rather fragile instruments. And for having dropped my violin. Phoebe, though, was much comforted by the fact that we had, all three, made mistakes, which she enumerated repeatedly.

Did I mention I made latkes? They were delicious.

In case you didn’t manage to check out of all Neil’s fantastic Christmahanukwanzaakah Concert, which had musical contributions from a variety of different holiday cultural traditions, I wanted to share with you this trio of lovely ukelele productions. These talented women inspired me so much that I looked longingly at the ukeleles at the music store when I went to my violin lesson. (Not that I expect that ukeleles are much sturdier than violins.)

I’m totally smitten with the uber-catchy “we like to celebrate chrannukah,” by Jenny Mae.

Then there’s Elly of Buggin’ Word, Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree. (Please check out the adorable “shuke” (shirt uke) her son is wearing)

And lest the southern hemisphere feel left out, here’s Juli Ryan with her charming rendition of a New Zealand folk song: “Haere Mai Everything is Ka Pai”

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5 responses to “holiday traditions and musical interludes

  1. Oh no! An alarming (and alarmed) sound escaped me while merely reading about the near-destruction of two violins. I’m so glad to hear that they seem to have survived their maltreatment. And also that the latkes were so good! We are making some tomorrow, along with tacos, for a multicultural non-Christmassy dinner.
    Happy Christmas and Hanukkah!

    • Thanks, Sally! Happy Hanukkah and non-Christmassy Christmas to you, too! I hope your latkes and tacos were enjoyable. (Did you try a latke taco? A tatke? Or a latco?)

      • I didn’t, but my sister-in-law did and proclaimed it quite tasty! (She used the latke instead of a tortilla, and piled the fillings for the taco on top of it, so I think it was a tatke. However, latco sounds nicer as a word. I think that’s probably what you would call a corn tortilla with a latke inside it.)
        Anyway, the tacos and the latkes were each excellent, and were followed by a sticky toffee pudding, so if you include the crepes we had for brunch, we managed to include some semblance of four different cuisines (Mexican, Jewish, and British and French). All in all, a yummy day.

  2. Agh! Glad the instruments were okay. I can imagine the noises you must have made…or at least similar noises. I’ve made them myself from time to time!

  3. You should check out this guy:

    http://jakeshimabukuro.com/home/

    He’s awesome on the uke. Glad your violins were spared. :)

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