Mom’s Voice: Last Spin of the Dreidel

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dreidelHanukkah is packed up and put away for another year.

I’ve done my best to scrape the melted wax off the kitchen counter and throw away what gold foil wrappers, once covering chocolate, I could find.

The dreidels are a different story. Dreidels breed. Even though I think they’ve made it into the bin with the other decorations, when I’m not looking they give birth to a litter of new plastic or wooden dreidels that end up in junk drawers or toy boxes throughout the year.

My kids ignore them the other days of the year. Even though it’s a fun game, dreidels are left to hibernate. It’s only during Hanukkah that they want to actually play dreidel and start looking for them.

As long as we are on the subject, I do have to debunk a myth. There are no clay dreidels.  I have never made one out of clay and have never known anyone else who has. In fact, I’ve never even seen a clay dreidel.

There are glass, crystal or ceramic dreidels, not meant for spinning. But the lyric to the Dreidel Song specifically states, “…when it’s dry and ready, oh dreidel I shall play.”

I had a fantasy of making a dreidel out of clay when I was little. Maybe all Jewish kids do. After singing that song over and over, it’s only natural. I was one of only three Jews in my grade: Mara Abrams, David Schwartz and me. I’ll let you guess the trio who sang the Dreidel Song in the holiday program at school. More than one year.

How could we compete with Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, especially when you get to yell out “Like a light bulb!”

There could easily have been a song about a menorah burning brightly where kids get to shout, “Like a light bulb!”

But I digress.

If I did make a dreidel out of clay, it would no doubt be lumpy and cumbersome, horrible for spinning. Nonetheless, it’s still on my bucket list.

The good news is this: regardless of how high tech our kids become, they are still excited to play dreidel each year. The simplicity of the game of chance hasn’t gone out of style for over two thousand years.

It’s easy. Everyone puts in two pieces of candy. On your turn, take a spin. One of four things can happen depending on which Hebrew letter is face up when the dreidel stops and falls to one side: take the entire pot, take half the pot, put two in, or do nothing.

What’s more, a dreidel is the perfect metaphor for life. Everyday we get up; it’s just another spin of the dreidel. Sometimes we take, other times we give.

Of course there are the times when we do neither. These are the necessary pauses when we remember to feel grateful for what we have.

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