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a very losers club holiday season

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On December 12, Ben woke up earlier than usual. They had to take Georgie to the train station. 

Mike gave him a ziplock baggie full of snacks, Stan and Eddie worried that he had forgotten something, Richie and Bev joked around and were extra-affectionate, and Bill showed his sadness at his brother leaving by being quiet and waiting on a bench, watching them all fondly. 

"You're going to miss him," Ben said, sitting next to him. 

"yeah," Bill signed. "I am."

"You could go back to visit him in February," Ben suggested. "Do a road trip, maybe a few of us could come too. Stan can see his parents, maybe Richie would join you two."

"Yeah. That would be nice," Bill said. "I just... hate goodbyes, you know? I try to make them short and snappy. When we drove out here, to move to another state to live permanently, I didn't even see my parents the morning we left. I said my goodbyes the night before, wrote a letter and left it on the table."

 

"To be fair, we left at four o'clock in the morning after sneaking Eddie and Bev out of their houses," ben chuckled a little bit. 

"Anyways," Bill stretched and yawned, "I'm going to start the process. Rescue Georgie from Richie's clutches."

Ben watched Bill awkwardly chat with Georgie for a second, and then when the train pulled up envelop hin in a tight hug. The brothers whispered for a moment, Bill turned pink, and then Georgie was on the train, waving from the window, and then the train pulled away and he was gone. Bill swiped his arm across his eyes and turned back towards the exit. The Losers followed, because of Unspoken Rule #3.

Unspoken Rule #3: If Eddie, Richie, or Mike is crying, ask what's wrong. If anyone else os crying, pretend it's not happening and talk about the weather. 

"This weather is insane," Richie said not very casually. "I mean, look at all this snow!"

It had snowed a lot. They were all in boots and heavy jackets, and Bill made an effort to smile a bit. 

"So, it's the first night of Hannukah," Stan said as they sat inside a little diner downtown. "I want to do some cooking, so is anyone free to go shopping with me?"

Richie wanted to work on his comedy for the show, and Eddie had a class. Bill had his art class, Mike had homework, but Bev and Bev were free. They told Stan as mich, and the three of them bid farewell to the rest of the club and set out for some good stores. 

"Right, so my mom used to make a huge meal on the first night and we'd all get together with family then, and then the rest of the nights she'd just make one of my favorites, and we'd light the candle ane everything. I thought we could do a similar thing here, and I'll make the big Uris family dinner tonight and then spread the rest of the goodies out over the rest of the nights," Stan said as they strolled down the street. 

"I'll help you cook tonight," ben volunteered. 

"Ooh! Me too!" Bev added. "I know absolutely nothing about cooking, and so I want to pick some stuff up from you." 

"Okay, sounds good!" Stan said happily as they entered the first store. "Now, Ben? Potatoes, some jam, and oil. Lots of oil. Beverly? Could you get some sour cream, and flour- if we don't have it- and then some general baking supplies that we're out of?"

"Clarification on 'general baking supplies', please?" Bev asked. 

"Eggs, sugar, vanilla."

"I will get those things because I don't know if we have them or not!" she said cheerfully before saluting him and strolling down the aisles. 

Ben found the potatoes, jam, and oil quickly and brought them to Stan, who was examining some chocolate coins in aisle two. Bev came staggering down the aisle too, arms full of food, and Ben grabbed the eggs before they could break. They paid for the food and dragged the grocery bags to the little family grocery store a block or so away. 

"Stanley!" the man at the meat counter said with a small smile. "Come to get some food for Hannukah?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Lifshitz," Stanley replied. "Just the brisket at the counter, and I'll probably pick up some matzo for the soup and stuff for kugel."

"The works!" Mr. Lifshitz (?) grinned as he wrapped up the meat. 

"Yes, my friends here haven't gotten the Hannukah experience before," he indicated Beverly and ben, "so we're making a lot of food."

"Good, good. Enjoy!" the shopkeeper said as he anded the brisket to Bev. 

Stan grabbed noodles, schmaltz, and matzo meal and then paid at the little register. 

"Happy Hannukah, Uris!" the girl called after them as they all left. 

"How do they all know you there?" ben asked as they walked to the subway. 

"I do most of my share of the grocery shopping there," stan said simply. He had always been the type to accidentally make friends in strange places, which was part of the reason Ben loved to go places with him. 

They carried the food all the way home from the subway and dumped it in the kitchen. Mike whistled. 

"That's a lot of food," he cp=ommented. 

"We've got a lot of food to make," Bev replied. 

Stan set them all to jobs: Ben wad going to make latkes, Bev was going to help Mike (who volunteered to help them) start the brisket, and Stanley the vegetarian was going to handle kugel. 

Ben peeled the potatoes and put the peelings in the trashcan. He grated them with Eddie looking over his shoulder to make sure he didn't grate his fingers too and then grated the onions. Per Stan's instructions, he added the eggs and flour and baking powder, formed them into patties, and heated up the oil. Next to him, Stan boiled the noodles and mixed the cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, and eggs. He left out raisins. Richie in particular hated raisins. 

Speaking of Richie, he was currently performing his rendition of Don't Stop Believin'. 

"A smell'a wine and cheeeeeeeep perfuuuuuuuume!" he warbled to Bev, who giggled and tapped him on the nose, then shoved him into the oven. 

"STREETLIGHTS! PEOPLE! OH OH OH! OHHHHHHHHHH!" Richie sang on, regardless. 

Finally, the latkes were frying. Bill set the table, Eddie put the sour cream and applesauce in little dishes, Bev and Mike finished the brisket, and the kugel was almost done. They brought al the food to the table, and Stan sat at the head. Richie carried the chanukiah out with two candles, the shamash and the first night's candle, placed in it. He set it in front of Stanley. 

 

"Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah,"  Stan key said once they were all seated. Ben saw Richie and Bill say the words too, having spent many a Hannukah with the Uris family over the years. Ben saw that they had all gotten a little dressed up; Richie and Bill had buttoned their Hawaiian shirt and flannel, Bev was wearing a skirt, Mike had the top button of his shirt buttoned and the sleeves rolled down. Stan had his favorite kippah on- the one with gold embroidery and black velvet. 

"That means, Praised are you, our God, Ruler of the universe, who made us holy through your commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hannukah lights," Stanley said louder. "Um, there are three prayers.  Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim la’avoteinu bayamim hahem bazman hazeh."

"Wait, I think I remember!" Bill offered. "Er, praised are you our God- ruler of the universe- who... did wonderful deeds? For our people?"

"Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in those ancient days at this season. Close, though," Stan smiled at Bill. "And finally.  Baruch atah Adonai elohenu melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.  We only say that one on the first night, it means thank you for giving us life and making dure we lived to see another Hannukah."

"Funsies!" Richie said. "Who wants to light the first candle?"

"Let Stan do it," Mike said and everybody nodded in agreement. Stan lit the candle, and everybody clapped. 

"The clapping's not necessary."

Richie inhaled the latkes and sour cream, Eddie and Bill declared the brisket was amazing, Beverly ate most of the kugel, and Ben and Stan toasted to the occasion. After dinner, Stan tried to teach them to play dreidel, but they were too distracted to learn, so they settled for turning on Hannukah music and cleaning up while eating chocolate coins. 

Right when they were snuggled in their beds, going through the rituals of bedtime, Bev gasped. 

"Stanley! C'mere!"

"What is it, Bev?" Stan asked, shuffling into their room in slippers and coordinated silk pajamas. 

"I made you this." Stan unwrapped the slightly messy wrapping paper to reveal a little box.

"Wow, Bev, I always wanted a box for Hannukah," he said with a wry smile. 

"Open it," she giggled, and he did, revealing the bowtie she had made him. Bird-patterned. 

"Did you  make  this?" he asked incredulously. 

"yeah!"

"Beverly Marsh!" he said, hugging her. "I love it. I'll wear it to synagogue this Saturday."

Bev grinned, and then they all exchanged "Goodnight"s and curled up in bed.

It had been a good day.