Before we got all fancy and started eating gourmet donuts on Hannukah, the Festival of Lights was a time for latkes and these:
Crumbly, tasteless chocolate bites that come wrapped in foil and look like coins, or as they’re affectionately known: Hannukah gelt. We still eat them in our house, and even though my little ones have now been exposed to far finer chocolate than the wartime substitute that comes inside of these, they still squeal with excitement at the sight of them. So much so that I just sprinkled some of these on the table last night and didn’t have to serve dessert, and I got huge brownie points for putting some in their lunchboxes today.
But Francie can’t get the name right. For weeks she’s been asking for them, and for weeks she’s been calling them Hannukah guilt. One of us usually corrects her politely and moves on, but last night, when I was up to my elbows in grated potatoes [hey, that food processor attachments has to get its once-a-year-use], she started asking for them again, “Do we get them tonight? Do we get Hannukah guilt?” She’d already asked about fifteen times since she got off the bus, so I just turned to her and barked:
“It’s GELT Francie, not guilt. Gelt — you know German for money [because, of course, she’s fluent]. Gelt. Gelt. Gelt. Enjoy it. As for the guilt, you’re genetically predisposed to have buckets of that, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.”
All I got in return was a blank stare, and then she said, “So, do we get it or not?”
Yes, Francie, you do get it. There’s plenty of gelt, and guilt to go around.
Tonight we’re partaking in the finest of Hannukah traditions and going to watch a little girl dance around a Christmas tree with some giant mice. Like all good Jews, we shall bring our own snacks. While the rest of the audience suffers in hunger, we shall secretly celebrate the Maccabean miracle by munching on some tasteless little chocolate bites wrapped in foil. Happy Hannukah.