Life’s Like a Dreidel …

December 18, 2008

dreidel_1134594420Hannukah, like Christmas, is just around the corner.

And while I’ve long out-grown my Hebrew School days and the eight nights a year spent playing dreidel with my siblings (always figuring out a way that *I* could win the most of whatever we were playing for, be it money, chocolate coins, etc) … I recently had the opportunity to revive my Jewish roots by teaching a friend’s bright-beyond-his-years four-year-old son about Hannukah …

Hannukah, the Festival of Lights, the holiday where Jews around the world remember the miracle that occured when, at the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, oil that should have burned for only one night, burned for eight.

Sharp as a whip, her son had come prepared with really good questions to ask me about one of my favorite holidays. I answered them, and we talked about special Hannukah foods and shared some Hannukah songs, which of course brought me back to my childhood.

Then, we played dreidel, a game beloved by children around the world. For anyone who doesn’t know what a dreidel is, it’s a small top that children play with on Hannukah. The prize can be anything, but it’s usually gold chocolate coins (called “gelt“), which are distributed to each player before the game begins.

(Since I couldn’t find Hannukah gelt here in western Michigan (gr!), we made do with the Hershey’s mint chocolate assortment — quite delish! God, times like these I soooo miss living a stone’s throw from Rockville/ Bethesda, MD!)

But I digress.

Each face of the top has a different Hebrew letter on it, so each spin of the dreidel yeilds a different letter. Based on the significance of the letter, you either have to put a coin in the pot, take all of the pot, take half of the pot, or do nothing/pass your turn.

Per Wikipedia’s explanation:
Nun - nisht - “nothing” - nothing happens and the next player spins.
Gimel - gants - “all” - the player takes the entire pot.
Hey - halb - “half” - the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number.
Shin - shtel ayn - “put in” - the player puts one marker in the pot.

As we played the game, winning some chocolate and losing some chocolate, I kept thinking of how each day in our lives is really like a spin of the dreidel. Some days we just “exist” … nothing necessarily good or bad happens. We could call this “normal.” Or … “maintenance.”

Some days we feel like winners … everything goes our way. We eat right, we exercise, we feel good. It’s like someone gave us a pot of gelt, and it’s a very good day. In the weight loss world, these are “losing days” and in the DE/ED world, these are days where we don’t exhibit any of those behaviors we associate with our DE/ED.

Some days we get the benefits of being healthy without putting in as much effort; maybe we exercise but indulge a little too much, but don’t feel bad about ourselves. Maybe have ED/DE thoughts, but nip the thought in the bud, before it turns into an action — a huge victory (especially since I’ve (grrr) had quite a few chew-and-spit moments over the past couple days PLUS two nights of midnight eating — blaming both on that time of the month).

And some days (day after day), we find ourselves giving back to the pot, even though we might get nothing tangible at that moment in return. This goes back to the notion of delayed gratification. We put in a lot of effort, but don’t win the pot at that moment. Yet the pot is still there.

I guess the only thing that could discredit this analogy is that when we spin a dreidel, we don’t know how things will turn up; it’s up to chance, fate, karma, whatever you want to call it.

But when we view life as a dreidel - one where we’re Master Spinners and can choose the letter it’ll land on … with each day being a new gift … well, then each day has a new meaning — one we’ve created, one we will fill however we please.

And if the pot doesn’t look full today … well, take a look again in a couple days, weeks, months …

After all, Rome (Jerusalem, Athens, Beijing, etc.) wasn’t built in a day.

How about you? Can you see this analogy or have I fallen off my rocker?

Entry Filed under: Blogging, Special Occasions, Weight Loss. Tags: , , , .

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bleachusd  |  December 18, 2008 at 2:44 am

    This makes total sense to me. Give some, lose some. Now if only I could remember it when I’m busy worrying myself…

  • 2. Lila  |  December 18, 2008 at 3:16 am

    You should be a rabbinical scholar. What a great analogy!

  • 3. marafaye  |  December 18, 2008 at 7:18 am

    LOVE IT!!!
    Oh, and send me your address, I’ll send you gelt :)

  • 4. lissa10279  |  December 18, 2008 at 8:35 am

    LOL Lila. So glad this analogy made sense. Sometimes they work totally in my head but not so much on “paper”.

  • 5. lissa10279  |  December 18, 2008 at 8:36 am

    you’re too sweet Mara — I’m going east (back to DC/Annapolis) Monday so we’ll have NO trouble getting gelt over there. Actually a friend saw it here at World Market — I just wasn’t there to buy it!

  • 6. Lee  |  December 18, 2008 at 9:12 am

    I grew up in the Rockville/Bethesda area. (Rockville but then they tried to get all fancy and call it North Bethesda!)

  • 7. lissa10279  |  December 18, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Hi Lee! I went to American so I was quite familiar with Bethesda and Rockville. Everyone knows the Pike :) That’s funny it used to be “North Bethesda” — I miss it a lot and am stoked we’re going back “home” next week.

  • 8. run4change  |  December 18, 2008 at 9:52 am

    I get it. The analogy is great. I like what you have to say about some days going smooth and other days we let our bad habit thoughts take over. I had that problem yesterday were I sabotaged myself when I really had no excuses to not run or go to my weight watchers meeting. I posted on the ridiculousness of self sabotage.

    http://run4change.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/self-sabotage-and-weight-loss/

  • 9. lissa10279  |  December 18, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Self-sabatoge is a toughie although it actually doesn’t sound like you self-sabatoged, at least to me … to me, binging or not journaling maybe would have been self-sabatoge. Though we all have our own litmus tests for what is sabatoge. Glad you’re back on track today — it was a great post you wrote!

  • 10. lara  |  December 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Small world here…I grew up in Potomac/Bethesda area and live in DC! Years ago they started calling parts of Rockville/Darnestown “North Potomac” to make it sound more appealing.

  • 11. lissa10279  |  December 18, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Small world, Lara!!

  • 12. seeleelive  |  December 19, 2008 at 6:54 am

    this is a beautiful connection that you’ve made!!

    I had a bit of a rough day yesterday, and reading this post this morning really means alot to me. Thanks.

  • 13. lissa10279  |  December 19, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Thanks, Lee. I love when you read something that just hits on what you’ve been feeling. Often I read a blog entry or a book and just am amazed at how it “nails” my emotion. And I always feel good when I know something I’ve written has inspired someone else.

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