I love this time of year. The decorations, the lights, the presents, the music — I love it all.
Husband #1 proposed to me in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree — which is like the most ironic thing in the entire universe considering how right-wing our sons have become. In laymen’s terms, him proposing to me in front of a Christmas tree is almost as heretical as eating a ham sandwich. Okay, I might be exaggerating just a bit, but you probably get the point.
I have actually been thinking of rewriting my proposal story for, God willing, future generations.
The year was 1994 and it was the eighth day of Chanukah. Your Zaydie #1 had just come home from taking a pot to the mikvah and I was coming back from a class on the ethics of our fathers. He placed the pot down on the counter and opened a book of tehillim (psalms) and began singing one of them to me. When he was done, he told me to look inside the pot and there was the ring. All of the great rabbis of the town had been hiding in the backyard and they started to wish us mazal tov and then burst into a jubilant Maariv minyan (the evening service). How is that? Much more apropos for the parents of black-hatted oreos, no? Maybe I need to work on that a bit… Suggestions are always appreciated.
Anyway, back to the holiday season. Another first as an empty nester, not worrying about all of the disappointed faces when you get your kids presents that they don’t like — because there are no kids home!! And the only look of disappointment is on my face, because there are no kids home! Husband #1 is happy because of the credit card bill, but me, not so much. This year, the present purchases were rather awkward. Son #2 needed a good pair of gloves, so he got gloves. Son #2 wanted some kind of Jewish book so we got him that. No sports-themed pajama pants or baseball cards. No ordering from NHL or NBA or NFL or Fanatics. No games for the Xbox and no Apple gift cards.
Son #1 is married now, so the focus of his gifts were what Dil #1 wanted—and I got her what she wanted. (I would have preferred getting her jewelry, but because she is the aishes chayil that she is, off to Judaica House I went). And then Son #3 is in Israel, so his gift was seeing his brother and sister-in-law on their honeymoon. And eating donuts in my honor. Had I not been out of commission the past week, I probably would have gotten him a bunch of stuff and sent it with son and Dil #1, but I think Son #3 appreciated the severity of the situation and was perfectly happy with the Hershey kisses that I sent him. Because, I don’t know if you knew this, they don’t sell chocolate in Israel.
In any event, I still maintain that if I wasn’t Jewish, my parents would definitely have gotten divorced over the Christmas season. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned my mother’s collections — dolls, bows, dolls with bows, pretty tchotchkes, pretty tchotchkes on dolls, pretty tchotchkes on dolls with bows. You get the picture. I can only imagine what our Christmas tree would have looked like. I can only imagine what the outside of our home would have looked like. I can only imagine the fights my parents would have had over decorating the home. My father taking off to buy the tree, bringing up thousands of boxes of dolls and ornaments to decorate the tree and then doing everything in reverse when the season was over which, in my house, I would imagine would go straight through to Easter. It would not have been a pretty picture. Truthfully, it would have seemed pretty on Facebook, but, in reality, like most things on Facebook, it would not have been pretty at all.
And that is why God made my family Jewish. Because God just knows these things. Like why I only have sons. There are reasons for everything. In reflecting on all of the traumatic events that have occurred over the past few weeks, they all just seem like reminders of how little control we have. How we have to appreciate the good that we have. How the things we actually can control, like how we treat people (and what we eat — you knew I had to get something in about food) — those are the only things we actually can control. So, like I said last week, continue to tell the people you love how much you love them. And as for the people you aren’t so thrilled with, perhaps give them another chance, and in the spirit of being kind to one and another, our prayers of healing for others will be heard faster and with greater mercy.
May the Chanukah season bring us all good health, light and lots of miracles.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is, thank God, recovering nicely. Unfortunately, her nose was not broken badly enough to warrant a nose job, so she is stuck with her dad’s nose until the end of time.