Holiday memories: Pat Snyder and Janis Ian


Pat Snyder is a criminal defense lawyer who resides in Nashville with her partner, Janis Ian. Ian is a singer, songwriter and author who has received nine Grammy Award nominations. Her songs "At Seventeen" and "Society’s Child" are in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

We always bring out Janis’ grandparents’ little menorah – the one that needs repairing. When we were young, we always saw cousins and played with dreidls to win "gold" chocolate candy coins, though it drove Janis’ mom crazy because to her it was gambling. And as adults, now we really do place bets on the dreidl! As kids, we were always told the story of Chanukah (either in Hebrew school or by relatives. Also the story of the Maccabees (Judah in particular was a hero). And now as adults, if the grandchildren are around, we do the same thing. Sometimes we even read it for ourselves just for tradition.

As kids, of course, we ate rugelach and potato latkes until they were coming out of our ears. As adults, we make a mean latke but can skip the rugelach. Add a cucumber martini and you have the perfect kosher celebration. Both as kids and even now as adults, we always have seven nights of presents, culminating with the one "big" one. The earlier ones are usually things we need or chachkas (goofy kitsch), or anything from Archie McPhee—but the last night we get the equivalent of a Christmas gift. It’s always a little strange, because Chanukah goes by the Hebrew calendar, so it skips around – that meant some years we can make our Christian friends jealous because we get so many presents before they get anything – other years, it’s just a wash.