A Donut Menorah & 4 Other Happy Sights

Chanukah and Christmas cheer will save us this December, in the time of Covid.

Image for post
Image for post

The sweet, simple donut menorah spotted December 10 at Daily Provisions in Union Square, New York City. Photos by Alice Garbarini Hurley.

any of us carry extra weight on our shoulders these days — debt, worry, health risks, loss, family fault lines. We try to shrug it off, but it’s not easy. Still, along the way, it’s hard not to smile at these bursts of holiday joy.

  1. Menorahs. I’ve seen them brighten the dark with white, blue or natural beeswax tapers — for your consideration, the brilliant donut menorah, above, spotted in New York City last Thursday night. I zipped in for a few hours with three masked kids in the back seat of my secondhand Toyota and was focusing on pretty blue Joe Coffee bags at Daily Provisions in Union Square. The kids noticed the menorah in the window and mustered up their courage to ask if the swirled cruller donuts were real. Yes, they were, and the little café makes them; we heard they sell out fast.
  2. Snow. It falls pure and clean, like a new start. In our pocket of the woods, the forecast for tomorrow calls for 100 percent chance of snow. Our girl might whip up snow cream. Two years ago, she made it from snow, half and half, sugar and vanilla extract and sold it by the cupful, door to door, to our kind neighbors. She made $18.
  3. Italian traditions. The Italian moms of two girlhood friends —my pals Connie and Lorraine — baked trays and trays and trays of cookies to save for Christmas Eve. I was in awe. (My mother, God bless her, made Tollhouse cookies. But that’s fine — we loved those, too.) My friend Heidi and my husband Dan’s cousin Mary Jane have both prepared the Feast of the Seven Fishes on December 24. A new pastry shop in town, Mattarello Bakey & Café, offers rich filled cannolis, lobster tails, bomboloni (donuts) and St. Joseph’s cream puffs, even BÛCHE DE NOËL yule log cakes. I got four slim boxes of torrone, the nougat candy made in Italy, for my Sis, Dan and to mail to my two brothers. Our Garbarini grandma, Rosie, who lived as a girl on a farm near Genoa, used to give it to us at Christmas. Italians know how to celebrate.
  4. Music. Ask your Google speaker to play seasonal songs. Try “The Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler; Christmas music by Nat King Cole; or “River,” the 1971 favorite by Joni Mitchell that begins with: It’s coming on Christmas/They’re cutting down trees/They’re putting up reindeer/And singing songs of joy and peace/Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on.
  5. Doggy coats and Christmas sweaters. I dare you not to smile at any breed of dog wearing one, including my adorable auburn buddy below, who wags constantly in my presence.
Image for post
Image for post
My sister’s lovable Dachshund, Buttercup, who is Santa’s Helper in Connecticut.

Alice Garbarini Hurley lives in Montclair, New Jersey with her family. Listening to Nat King Cole in the kitchen and buying torrone for her siblings added spark to a tough day, December 15.

Magazine maven, craft coffee lover, legal guardian. Passionate about fashion and lipstick — though it may not look that way when I dash to the supermarket.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store