Three days before LittleBrother’s 4th birthday, December 15, 1985, he reported to the hospital to have tubes placed in his ears. Having been born with an ear infection, and struggling with them his entire life, this was a pretty routine procedure. My mother was an old pro, having been through this three times before. They checked in to the hospital and left several hours later. My brother was in good spirits.
The next day, my brother was violently ill. Having been through this before, my mother knew this was not normal behavior for him. Her intuition told her something was wrong–and she was right. When the doctor punctured his ear drum to implant the tubes, his ears were infected (something a 24 year old medical intern would have been able to see). The infected fluid leaked to his brain and he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
There was a 48 hour period where no one thought my brother would make it. I have few memories of this time–I was just a small child myself– but I do remember my mother’s tearful pleas that I go visit him in the hospital. I was too scared and refused to go.
In my absence, a photo that had been taken of me a few days before he was admitted to the hospital was placed at his bedside. I am dressed up as a huge Christmas present, arms and legs sticking out of a huge gold box, enveloped in a monstrousness red ribbon with a Santa hat on my head. I have a cheesy smile on my face that is reserved for 4-year-olds weeks away from Christmas. My brother apparently obsessed over this picture, looking at it while he lay in the hospital.
My brother is now an adult, suffering from zero long term effects of this illness. The picture stays up year round in my parent’s house, a reminder of how much we all almost lost.
You would think after this Christmas miracle, I would embrace this time of year with cheer and optimism. You thought wrong. The crowded stores, incessant carols and pressure to find the perfect gift for family members soured me on Christmas in middle school. Let’s face it; once you have given your little brother the will to live, you have peaked on gift giving. A Yankee candle or scented soap just ain’t gonna cut it. My mother, a Christmas freak, has been cursed with a husband and a daughter who could care less about helping her trim the tree.
The only good thing about the holidays is the food. Food knows no race, creed, religion, or color so I whipped up some latkes in celebration of Hanukkah this Sunday. Having attended GW, I am practically Jewish anyway. This traditional recipe is ripped from Cooking Light and, if I do say so, turned out really well. Topped with applesauce and some light sour cream, they were heaven. The outsides were crispy and crunchy, while the insides were soft and starchy with the perfect amount of onion. One word of caution: watch out while grating the onions and potatoes. I got cocky once I got to the onions and the huge chunk of flesh I removed from my right thumb is evidence I should not have been so cavalier with my grating. Despite the injury, these will become a yearly tradition.
Hope y’all had a lovely Hannukah.
Source: Cooking Light
4 cups shredded peeled baking potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup grated fresh onion (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Combine potato and onion; squeeze moisture from potato mixture over a sieve. Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine potato mixture, flour, and next 5 ingredients (through egg white) in a large bowl. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions; squeeze out any remaining liquid. Shape each into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. I found using a muffin tin, even though it dirtied an extra pan, helped me divide the patties into 12 equally portioned latkes.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 6 patties; cook 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and patties.