We had a Hanukah party last night, which was a lot of fun. The baked "party latkes" from Cooking Light were a disaster, but the fried latkes were a huge hit, both the traditional ones and the curried sweet potato latkes from Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America. I like cooking and I like having people over. Can't say I love the hectic cleaning that's needed to get the house ready to have company. (I wish we had entertained more during the period when we were feeling flush enough to have a biweekly housecleaner.)
The party was a nice mix of people we know from different settings -- work, online communities, school, hobbies. I think it worked because there were no big clumps of people who already knew each other, so people had to find different things to talk about.
I had an interesting conversation with one of our guests, a Christian married to a Jew, about why I am less than totally thrilled about celebrating Christmas with my in-laws. Why, he asked, is it not a totally positive thing to have another holiday to celebrate? I don't have a really good answer. I think I have this vague notion of Christmas as a big seductive force that will try to suck us all in if I don't draw a bright line against it. It is one of the ironies of the season that Hanukah is a celebration of resistance against assimilation, and it is the most assimilated of Jewish holiday.