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10-4

2 Aug

Phyllis DanzigIf birthdays are a time to celebrate the fact that someone was born and became part of your existence (or the reason for your existence), then, today, I celebrate my mom. She would have been 83 years old! But, since birthdays are mostly a time to celebrate turning a year older or, perhaps, reaching a milestone, then I can just feel crushed.  No matter how hard I try to remain upbeat and no matter how easy it is to feel my mom’s presence even now, I cannot help but be angry that she/we were robbed of the last 20.5 years of togetherness.

That being said, I must go on with a thought/question I’ve had for a while: If my mom were alive, would she have a Facebook page? For some, this might seem like a very trivial issue and perhaps even completely not worthy of contemplation.  However, I am curious. I first thought about this years ago when an alumnus of the high school where I work stopped into the library to look at old yearbooks. She had been a widow for a few years and started her first Facebook page to get back in touch with people. Whether or not she had hoped to connect with eligible men (I did not inquire), they started popping up. And, she did not recognize the men with whom she had graduated 40 years earlier. She had lost her yearbook in a fire and wanted to check out their names and graduation photos before “friending” them. How smart- and safe! I enjoyed my chat with her and learning about her current quest. And, it was fun to see her reaction to finding the names and photos – “Oh, that’s him…still cute. Oooh- I do remember him… Hmmm, I still don’t know who he is.” For a while after this interesting visit, I wondered who she decided to friend and if she made any platonic or romantic connections.  I hope her research yielded happy results.

Back to Phyllis Tabak Danzig’s potential profile and posts and why I think she would have, at the very least, given Facebook a try. First, we were a big CB Radio family. Do you remember those things? My dad was a technology tinkerer. CB Radios brought him back to his morse code army days and connected him to like-minded people. Our family took many road trips for vacations and my mother’s antique business. CB Radio jargon and chatter gave them something fun to do and even my sister and I got caught up in the craze. My sister and I can recall our “handles”- she was Sunflower and I was Buttercup. I know, how cute. My dad, with his full head of thick brown hair, took on one of his favorite American symbols: The Bald Eagle. Strangely, neither my sister nor I can recall my mom’s handle. Whether in the car or our home’s office, the CB Radio was an absolute obsession for my parents during the mid/late 1970s. Also, like my father, my mother learned to navigate a computer and the early Internet way before they were easy to use. The technology might have intrigued her and certainly would not have stumped her.

So, if I am right, my mom’s profile would include Tabak, her maiden name. I am not sure about the photo- she was camera-shy. And, her birthday might be listed, but not the year, for sure. As an antiques dealer, she would want to “advertise” her vocation/hobby. She certainly would “like”  The Red Bank Antiques Center page and probably post photos of her booth and inventory. She would be part of a few groups, mostly antiques related, but perhaps also exercise since she had become a Pilates devotee.  We certainly would have friended each other. She would not Like with abandon. She was too honest and even critical for that. And, I, as her daughter and Facebook friend, would appreciate her choosiness. At the very least, even if she would not have become a Facebook fan, my page would be littered with photos of her and us during our shared adult years. 

Of course, all of this is not realistic and is relevant only if…. I am not usually an “only if” person, but this day brings out that wonder and longing for what could have been.

As postscript, I am curious if you are of my mom’s generation, do you have a Facebook page? If you’re closer to my generation, does your mom have a Facebook page? And, how is that going for you or her?

 

 

A New Loss

26 Aug

I am finally finding time to write, but must interrupt the regular format of my posts with sadness as our family has lost one of its great matriarchs. I use this word with purpose, especially after reading this definition: “A highly respected woman who is a mother” (“Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, 2000. Web). My husband’s Aunt Helen became my aunt from our first family event. She epitomized the “Other Mothers” I am grateful to have had; as I wrote in my post, https://iwishmymom.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/other-mothers/.  Even one week before she succumbed to non-smoker’s lung cancer at age 86, she shared her wisdom and positive spin with me. While I think I was one of her biggest fans, I realize that her entire family and her friends tie for first place in that category. She was also a fan of each of us, always interested in and supportive of our endeavors. I appreciated her subscription to this blog. She read it and commented to me as an “other mother” and as a regular reader.   I am glad that she and my mom had the chance to meet. My mom, being a great judge of character, immediately liked her. Her daughters, son, grandchildren, brother and all of us nieces, nephews and cousins have been inspired by her and will miss her greatly.  As Aunt Helen, generous and selfless, would have wanted, we are not dwelling on our loss.  She would be glad to know we celebrate her and carry on with strength and optimism.

Just a few weeks later, I watched a dear friend, my husband’s stepmother, grieve as her mother passed away.  She had the great fortune to enjoy a very long and wonderful relationship with her mom who died at age 92. Yet, losing your mom, at any age, is so difficult.

I have actually debated (with myself, in my head), if I would find losing my mom harder had she lived longer. As silly as it sounds, I think maybe I’d be even more spoiled, more used to having her around. I might not have learned to make certain decisions (right or wrong….) on my own.  I would have become more dependent on her advice, help, etc. I wonder, would the adjustment to life as a motherless daughter and parent, be more difficult if my mom had lived another 20 years? So, when a relative or friend experiences this loss, I sometimes think, “Oh she has it so much harder than I did.”  And, then, I almost get angry with myself as I realize that A. I had it really hard. When my mom died, I was filled with agony. I could  not have imagined a more painful period of time. My adjustment was not easier than anyone else’s.  B. What I would have done or would still do to have been granted more time with mom. It would have been wonderful to share even one more day with her. And C. It’s all so personal, unique and unpredictable. We cannot measure the suffering we experience when our mother dies. No one’s is easier, better, harder.

It just is.

What If….

11 May

I imagine you have worked on plans to celebrate your mom or yourself tomorrow. Mother’s Day can seem like a “holy day of obligation.”  Either we must treat our mom and/or mother-in-law to brunch or we must enjoy a day our family plans for us. Of course, there’s nothing we’d rather do more than celebrate motherhood, being mothers or having mothers. But, it can seem forced and fake. I’m torn. On the one hand, it’s nice to have an excuse to make special plans, buy or receive special gifts and celebrate. I like almost any excuse to celebrate. But, on the other hand, what if the celebration causes stress or, worse, exhaustion!

Growing up, we used to joke that every day should be Mother’s Day. Maybe there is some truth to that—why wait until the second Sunday in May to celebrate one of the most important people in your life?

I hope the day is filled with fun for you and the women you celebrate. It should be a  wonderful day, but perhaps there are other days of the year that you (would) actually appreciate time with your mom more than this one day.

On this Mother’s Day weekendI would love your response:

If you are fortunate enough to have your mom in your life, but you were told you could spend only one day of the year with her. Your choice, which day would you choose?

Or:

What if  your mom who passed away could be in your life just one day of the year, which day would you choose?

Is there a specific day of the year that you need your mom more than any other day? Or a day you did or do enjoy her company more than any other day?

Which day strikes you as a day you really need (or wish you had) your mom? And, of course, why?

Rather than write my answer, I truly want to hear from YOU.  I look forward to you sharing your thoughts.

Thank you for reading my blog and contributing.

February – Bitter and Sweet

21 Feb
Grandma Phyllis with Jordan.

Grandma Phyllis with Jordan.

February 20, 1989 was one of my mom’s happiest days—the day her first grandchildren were born. She had endured the saddest year, grieving my dad’s death just one year earlier, March 1988. The arrival of twin grandsons lifted her spirits and truly changed her outlook.  She was forever enamored with them. She had a new purpose—helping my sister and obsessing over these two, most adorable boys, Jordan and Aaron.

Grandma Phyllis and Aaron

Grandma Phyllis and Aaron

When I get sad thinking about how she did not get the chance to know my children and they were jipped out of having her in their lives, I picture her with Jordan and Aaron. My mom’s bleakest year became her brightest. The announcement of my sister’s pregnancy, the discovery she was carrying twins and even her subsequent bedrest,  relieved my mom’s malaise and gave her a new purpose. Sure, she was worried about my sister for 9 months, but that was healthy and therapeutic.  Their birth gave her new, awesome grandmotherly duties! She loved these boys so much that she even shed her dog anxiety and  warmed up to their Border Collie, Kiwi.  I was shocked and thrilled to see her invite my two-year old nephews to bring Kiwi over for a playdate. She helped my sister and entertained Jordan and Aaron even during her chemo. Playing with her grandsons provided more good therapy than any drug she received. When my children ask about her and when I find myself telling them stories about her, I really do feel a sense of gratitude that I got to see my mom become a grandmother. I know that she was and would have continued to be a great grandma!

Five very short years later, just ten days before my nephews’ 5th birthday, my mom died. Our happiest month, February, became bittersweet and very sad. I was sad that my nephews’ birthday celebration had to be postponed as if that really mattered at the time. In accordance with their nature then and now, they adapted and coped. They did not complain about the long New Jersey stay. Some five-year olds would not have been able to understand. Fortunately, they were probably just young enough to not have their birthday forever marred by our grief.

This year, I did not write a post on my family’s funereal February 10th, the anniversary of my mom’s death. I find solace writing about her any day of the year, but certainly prefer this day over Feb. 10th. On this day and during this month,  I accept the two necessary parts of life—death and birth, bitter and sweet. And, I am thankful for my sweet sister and the joy she and my brother-in-law brought to my mom’s and my life. Happy, Happy Birthday Aaron and Jordan!

She Told Me So

26 Dec

I had a great, serendipitous moment last weekend when I was perusing Parade Magazine and stumbled upon one of my mom’s pet peeves.  I happened to see Marilyn Vos Savant’s column (http://bit.ly/RgC8WI) and the question, “My friend and I disagree about whether it’s okay to use fabric shears to cut wrapping paper…Can you settle this for us?”  I recalled (fondly now since my annoyance over these admonishments has diminished over time) the reprimand my mom would give if she thought we were using the “kitchen scissors” for fabric or the “fabric scissors” for paper, etc. Ms. Vos Savant explains the actual scientific reason for making sure that the fabric scissors’ blade does not get dulled by cutting paper.   I actually never doubted my mom’s scissor-use guideline and have always tried to use scissors for their published purpose.  In fact, if you have read many of my blog posts, you would know that I often feel my mom’s presence in my life  because I follow many of her lessons.

This little tip sparked a reminiscence of more good tips from my mom:

First, one that my family notices and questions – using your wrist not your hand to check someone’s forehead for fever. Every time my husband uses his hand to check for warmth, I actually recoil, thinking about my mom’s method. And, I just googled this to find that Yahoo Answers! agrees with her (http://yhoo.it/WHFsJC ) — not that I doubted her, I just wanted a second opinion.

Second and more controversial:  Drinking warm liquids to stay cool in the summer. I can recall the exact street corner in Red Bank, NJ where we had this conversation. My mom was treating us to drinks on a hot summer day and asked for hot, not iced coffee. Her reasoning might have been off, but her method works. She emphatically explained that your warm body has to work harder when it reacts to an icy liquid and the “hard work” makes you hotter. I’ve always wondered about this and just googled it too. I found an interesting and almost opposite explanation, but it still gives the same end result:  feeling cooler on a hot day.  http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/07/11/156378713/cool-down-with-a-hot-drink-its-not-as-crazy-as-you-think .

Third, tons of cooking education.  Recently, after giving my good friend advice on cooking chicken soup, she  was impressed and asked how I knew the “insider tips.” When I told her, “Oh, easy- my mom taught me…” she complimented my mom for both her practical knowledge and ability to impart it to me!

Little things like finding that column, especially when I usually recycle Parade Magazine without even opening it, give me a warm reminder that my mom is still an influence in my life. I have admitted before in my blogs that while I do genuinely miss my mother for all of the usual melancholy and sentimental reasons, I also selfishly miss her help. Thanks to her, I do know how to boil water faster, dust top to bottom, check for expiration dates and much more (https://iwishmymom.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/expired/).

I am so sure my mom would have continued to share even more expert and useful tips. And, given the opportunity, Marilyn Vos Savant would endorse them!

Grandma and the Mall

22 Jul

I wish my mom knew how much her wisdom still inspires me. While I did not have the chance to admit to her that she was right about the tan (and obviously still need to be reminded), I think that she must have seen my powder cover-up as a sign of guilt and acknowledgement.

Of all the things I wish my mom was here for, being a grandma to my children tops the list. She would have kvelled constantly. I often think of how much pleasure she would have had from being their grandma. Fortunately, I did get to witness the wonderful relationship she had with my nephews from birth to age 5, when she died. She was thrilled with everything about them.

I must have had this on my mind when I was walking through Livingston Mall the other day. I spotted a few young girls walking with women who appeared to be grandmothers and immediately thought of my mom. As much as I wish my mom was here to do that, I’m not sure she would have. She did like to shop, but usually in an antique store and/or with a mission or purpose. She was never a mall walker or window shopper. Unlike her, I am. I love to wander through the mall especially during the summer when I have more free time. Later in the week, I observed more girls and grandmas strolling in the Mall at Short Hills. I imagined they had finished lunch and were carrying bags of clothing they chose together. Some held hands—forcing me to smile at their special moment.

As I watched them walk by I thought about my trips to the East Brunswick Mall with my Grandma Lena, my dad’s mother. She made a big deal date with me at least once every few months. Sometimes one of my parents would drive us to the mall, but often we took the bus which stopped right near her apartment. I was always eager to go with Grandma Lena, partly for the window shopping, but mostly for the shirt she would buy for me. I also loved making her happy with this somewhat selfish, activity. And, she loved getting dressed up for our outing. She would tell me, in advance, what she planned to buy me- usually a simple shirt or sweater and never expensive. Of course, it was not about the gift,

So, I wonder, what activities would (or does) your mom enjoy with her grandchildren? Does she take them to the mall? Museums? Parks? Did you engage in similar activities with your grandmother? Just as I did during my mall trip, I’ll live vicariously for a few moments.

Who is Rich?

21 May

I am, according to Psalm 128:2 in The Old Testament. What matters, my Grandma Ray taught me when I was very young, is that you are rich if you are satisfied with what you have. My mom’s mom, Rachel Shapiro Tabak, was a very special woman who lived to be 93 years old.  I was reminded of this particular phrase/lesson this past Friday night as my Temple’s Cantor spoke during his retirement service/celebration. After 45 years as an exceptionally inspirational clergyman at Temple Shaarey-Tefilo Israel, Cantor Theodore Aronson gave those at services yet another  lifelong lesson.

Grandma Ray’s philosophy and attitude had a great impact on me. She was an inspirational “other mother.” I am sure I did not appreciate my own mother telling me to be satisfied with what I had. She is the one I bugged to buy me another pair of designer jeans, another sweater…. How often are young or teenage girls satisfied with the “things” they have? But, when my Grandma quoted the Bible, I listened. She made sense. “Who is rich? He who rejoices in his portion, as it is written (Psalm 128:2) ‘You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.’” (from http://www.shechem.org/torah/avot.html) My Grandma made me feel good—like I was in charge. I could be whatever I wanted to be.  If you enjoy the life you created, if you do your best to create a wonderful life, you can feel good. She never went into that much detail, all she had to do was quote the Psalm and I understood. My Grandma had a very hard life. She fled Eastern Europe in the 1920s, following her husband to America. After a difficult, almost impossible journey via Cuba, she settled in with her husband who was already in New York. She continued to have personal and financial struggles. I am not really sure how she was able to endure the hardships she had. On paper, she was never even close to being rich. But, what was in her mind and heart made her a billionaire.

This saying puts the onus on us to create a life we love, no matter what we have. How many “rich with money” people do you know who are not really rich? I could feel “poor” because I don’t have my parents. I am deprived of their support. I could feel entitled to pity. But, I don’t feel poor. I feel fortunate for the parents I had. There are many worse alternatives. I know that.

“Other Mothers” (Post from Sept. 1, 2011- http://wp.me/p1lBgS-4f) are all around us, they can be our grandmothers and clergy. I really must credit my Grandma Ray for empowering me to accept reality, the lot I am given, and do the most that I can with it. I appreciate Cantor Aronson. He is grateful for the richness he feels. And so was my Grandma. And, thanks to people like them, so am I.

Michael Bloomberg Doesn’t Go Home Much Anymore, Do You?

25 Mar

As I read a recent New York Times article, Mayor’s Ties to Hometown Fade, But for a Few, They are Still Felt, I wondered why this observation is newsworthy. After all, I thought, I have visited my hometown only a few times after my mom’s death. Why is it so unusual to stop visiting your hometown after it is void of your immediate family?

Unlike some people who are disappointed that Bloomberg does not visit his hometown, Medford, Massachusetts anymore and unlike others who (in comments entered after the article was published) do not care if Bloomberg visits any town, I thought his devotion to his mom and donations to the town are admirable. In a 2009 biography, Bloomberg admitted to not liking his hometown. He found it boring and uninspiring. Yet, he did visit his mother who remained in town, living in the same house he grew up in until her death last year. When approached to donate to the Medford Arts Council, Bloomberg gave $25,000. He has given even more to the public schools, a local orchestra, a hospital and a sports complex. He has even donated over one million dollars to the town’s synagogue. He did not stop there. He started a fund for the town’s public library. Due to his suggestions, Medford residents and New York City corporations have given generously to the library, certainly a project that wins my approval.

So, after reading about Bloomberg’s continued dedication, albeit financial, to his hometown, I was impressed. He has very strong, perhaps eternal, ties to Medford.

Unlike Bloomberg, I have very fond memories of  my hometown. Like Bloomberg, after my mom left Old Bridge, my ties to Old Bridge quickly faded. In fact, I have gone back only a few times, most recently when I found out about a neighborhood reunion at our pool club. Unlike Bloomberg, people who still live in Old Bridge did not pine for my connection and I certainly would not have expected them to.  It was great to see both the people who still live in Lakeridge West and those who returned for the reunion. Since I still live in New Jersey and, even more relevant, since I work in a school district only 20 minutes from Old Bridge, I do find out about what’s going on there. I have driven through the town a few times and I always love to look around and see what has changed. I might not have reason to return to Old Bridge again and that’s really okay.

All of this makes me wonder, what ties, if any, do you have to your hometown? Do you keep up with news about the town? If you no longer have family in your hometown, do you still visit?

Citation:

Grynbaum, Michael. “Mayor’s Ties to Hometown Fade, But for a Few, They Are Still Felt.” New York Times. 03 19 12, A14. Print.


							

What book will you read next?

15 Jan

I wish I knew what books my mom read —or if she read books. Actually I know she read Antiques Guides, but that was work and hobby-related. And, she read newspapers and magazines. But, I do not remember her reading books for fun.

This query came about recently when a student in the high school where I work asked me what my favorite books are. As a librarian, I am often asked for book suggestions. Requests range from, “Do you have any books by this author?” to “I have to read a biography for class, would you show me some?” Often, during this process I describe books I have read or wish to read. For some reason, this particular student’s request struck me. It might have been the way she asked or her smile, both of which suggested sincerity and seriousness. For a moment I was moved out of my usual librarian way of thinking (asking what she likes to read, trying to get a sense of her taste) and entered into a casual discussion of books. I felt flattered and was eager to share. She had already read my all-time favorite, Jane Eyre, a few times. Not only did she read my favorite modern novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, a dozen times, she even read the autobiography of Mineko Iwasak, the retired geisha who inspired the author. I added that to my list. Soon our discussion was not about my favorites, but about our favorites. We gave each other ideas of what to read next.

Now that my own children are high school students, I often feel like a mother to the students I work with. They come into the library with voracious appetites for fiction. I marvel at how they read so much when encumbered with heavy homework. And, often students who might wear the label, “not interested in school” borrow books as if addicted to reading.  I appease my envy of their reading lists by imagining that their days are longer than 24 hours! Sometimes I joke that they must be renting the books out to other people, they can’t possibly read so many! Once, one of the students admitted that she borrows some of the books for her mom. For a second I thought about how she was taking books away from reading-obsessed students, but I was impressed with her desire to enable her mom’s reading passion.

All of this makes me wonder if my mom missed out on reading for fun or if she was typical of her generation? I know that my friends share books with their moms now. They’ll tell me, “Oh, my mom just finished that one and loved it.” Did their moms habitually read fiction 25 years ago? I often credit Oprah’s Book Club with adding to our society’s obsession with books. Does it follow then that my mom’s generation has more recently become enamored with fiction?

My son and I are now each reading the same book and we often have engaging discussions about books. My daughter and I also share a passion for books. Interestingly, she has a Jane Eyre –ish favorite, its prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea. But that makes sense, their mom is a librarian! When my mom was sick she read self-help books including, Harold Kushner’s Why Bad Things Happen to Good People and Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine and Miracles. Assuming pleasure-reading just was not her thing then, I wish my mom could have experienced my passion and maybe even joined me in having a favorite book.

Not a Merry, but Yet a Very Happy Hanukkah

26 Dec

Holidays are known (notorious) for triggering sad memories of family missing in our lives. So, of course I have been thinking about my mom and, yet, fortunately focus on memories of celebrating Chanukah with her. My thoughts rambled and I came up with one memory or lesson for each night.

1.  Lesson, learned very young: Chanukah is NOT as important a holiday as Christmas. I grew up knowing that Chanukah celebrations mimicked Christmas due to societal pressure. My parents were dedicated to recognizing the holiday and carrying out the standard rituals, without Christmasizing it.  Even as a child, my parents somehow helped me feel that the story of the Maccabees, lighting the Menorah, dreidel games and latkes were more important than gift-giving.

2.  Gifts for Children Only:  My mom was adamantly opposed to children giving Chanukah gifts to adults. They were happy to give us gifts, but believed the gelt-giving tradition was intended to be non-reciprocal. As a child and young adult, I might have felt relief at being spared the expense and shopping agony, but the true test of admiring this “rule” is that I pay it forward—I am very happy to not receive gifts from my children and I am truly happy to give.

3.   Chanukah gifts: Not usually bountiful, but, even in tough years, my mom and dad gave us each one gift we requested. They joked that if we wanted one gift each night we’d have to settle for  Crayola’s box of 8 distributed over the holiday. Rebelling against this and starting with my daughter’s first Chanukah,  I decided to indulge my children the way I wish I was…. Whether it is a relative’s, friend’s or our gift, I make sure my children have at least one gift to open each night after we light the candles.

4. Shopping for Sales: We often waited to buy gifts until the Old Bridge Drug Fair lowered prices hourly before closing on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we even ventured to Toys R Us the day after Christmas for the best sales.  Some years our gifts were delayed until the monumental sales began. It was, of course, more fun to go when we had already been appeased with Chanukah gelt and gifts and the trip filled our rooms with extra toys. One problem with my parents’ plan is that I do recall being really sad in the Barbie aisle when NOTHING was reduced. Those were the days of fewer sales and deals. As an ardent sale shopper, my mom would be overwhelmed with today’s current state of sales. I wish my mom could have seen Target on Dec. 24, 2011!

5.  Better than any gift: My parents’ surprise announcement just before the holiday—we’re driving to Florida. I wonder how crazed the last minute decision made my mom—preparing for the long car ride and stay in Miami or Orlando. I knew the reason for this surprise was due to either a bonus paycheck or some other “found” money. The impetus did not take away even one bit of the euphoria I felt when the trip was announced.

6.  Grandma Ray’s latkes: I can see and smell them now—meaty potato patties coated in heavy oil and fried until all of the oil soaked in. During holidays my mother lifted her usual ban on my Grandma’s food treats. My grandma was even allowed to bring the fruit slices, sweets I still crave (and must admit, buy).

7.  Dreidel games: I often think about the very simple fun my sister and I had while playing dreidel on her floor—before her 1970s green shag carpeting was installed. The tiles were a drab and cold brown during the winter, but spinning for pennies (or even luckier, Hershey’s Kisses) was a tradition I relished. I still have our plastic dreidels, the bigger shallow dreidel that held the tiny ones and the piece of paper reminding us how much gelt we give or get from each letter.

8.  Keeping it simple: In keeping with the effort to celebrate Hanukkah in a non-Christmas way, we had very few decorations.  The most significant symbol of the Macabee miracle was prominently displayed—a brass electric Menorah in the window and an old-fashioned brass Menorah in the family room. I have proudly displayed the same electric Menorah, my Grandma Ray’s candle menorah and one that we received as a gift. I must admit I have decorated with Chanukah ribbon and streamers and use napkins decorated with Hanukkah symbols during the 8 days.

I wish my mom could see that she taught me well and her guidance/lessons live on. Happy Hanukkah!

Special thanks to my sister for helping me with accurate recall!

Now go read a wonderful Hanukkah Hoopla post by The Culture Mom !

I would like to thank Streit’s and Doni Zasloff Thomas a.k.a. Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band for providing each of the 16 bloggers involved in #HanukkahHoopla with a little cyberswag.

How can you win? Leave me an awesome comment. On January 5, 2012, I will select one winner at random. Be sure to subscribe to my blog or subscribe to comments on this page so you can find out if you are the winner! If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will select another winner.

Prefer to be contacted via Twitter? Leave your Twitter handle in your comment and I will tweet you if you win.

Not interested in winning? You can still leave a comment! I love to read your words. Just write: “No prize necessary” in your comment.

Don’t make me work too hard to find you. That will make me kvetchy. Oy.