The boys set multiple dreidels spinning at once. The dreidels whir around the table, sometimes clacking off each other and shooting over the table-edge. At the end of each round one of the boys likes to line up his dreidels and see which letters they fell on (what are the odds of getting four gimmels?) Their younger brother thinks it's more fun to climb onto the table and swat down all the dreidels; I call him the "Dreidel Monster", and he laughs in delight.
We light Hanukkah candles simultaneously in different cities and sing together over the phone. "Maoz Tzur" makes me feel like a sturdy stone cottage full of light.
They're a comic team, bopping each other on the head. They've been doing this for years - sometimes playfully, other times hard enough to knock each other out.
I needed an evening like this one - catching up with people I haven't seen in weeks, a long dinner with good food, lots of laughter, staying after to help clean up and then sitting at one of the tables, just three of us talking about all sorts of things until it gets late.
We start with the sprightly joy of Glinka. This is followed by the sweeping mastery of Tchaikovsky. From there we step into Debussy's engimatic lagoon with its choir of sirens. And then Stravinsky's firebird unfolds, full of dazzling unpredictable spirit (and that one golden passage in the finale when the French horn emerges from the near-silence like a lake catching the first light of the rising sun).
When I visit their apartment, there's a corner of the couch that's just mine. I know that I can sprawl there for a while.
After they visit, my fridge is full to bursting with meat, milk, cheese, yogurts and juice, cups of cinnamon-spotted rice pudding, baby carrots, pickles in tupperware, red-green apples and spicy olives, netted bags of tangerines and a bar of (opened already of course) chocolate in shiny foil.