I hope that you all had a Chanukah filled with light, joy, and miracles. I hope that you all received gifts that you either needed or wanted. I hope that you were able to celebrate with those you wanted to celebrate with, and if you had to celebrate with those you did not want to, I hope that at least you got some good presents.
As for me, thank God, my Chanukah was filled with light and joy. My Chanukah was filled with gifts that I both wanted and did not need and, yes, that is what this week’s column will be about. Before I begin, my thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that were not able to be with their families this year, and may the merit of all of our tefillot bring the hostages home and peace to all of Am Yisrael.
I was at a beautiful bar mitzvah this past Shabbos, where the mother of the bar mitzvah boy spoke about how our hearts are so big that they have room for intense sadness and intense joy. I know that this is how the majority of us are living and surviving day to day. And now, onward…
I love reflecting on Chanukahs past, especially the gift-giving. I grew up receiving one present a night. Yes, I was spoiled. I tried to continue that with my boys, but boys are harder to get gifts for. I still remember getting one of those lip gloss palettes, the kind with 20 different colors, 18 of which you could never wear in public but they were fun to play with. For my boys? A box of cereal became a gift. A package of undershirts with their individual names on the tags — these things made everyone happy. And, no, I never bought my boys the lip gloss palette, because none of them ever asked for one.
For Chanukah this year, I got a very special gift. A kidney stone. It was a four carats — just kidding. It hurt so badly that Son #3 told me I said a lot of really not nice things to him in the emergency room, and we all know how much I love Son #3. The joke of the whole experience was that for the first hour that I was in the ER, writhing in pain and screaming, my pregnancy test wasn’t coming back and they wouldn’t give me anything for the pain. The ER doctor finally came over to me and said, “Is there any possible way you could be pregnant because I cannot give you anything until the results come back and the results, for some reason, are not coming back.” I looked at Son #3, my innocent little baby boy (ok, he isn’t so innocent and he certainly isn’t little, but he is still my baby) looked back at the doctor and said, “My son is sitting right here, so I don’t want to go into any details, but, believe me when I tell you that there is no way I am pregnant — now give me something for my pain before I rip my eyeballs out!!!!” Poor Son #3. Poor doctor. Blah blah blah, give me my toradol.
So that was the gift I did not ask for. But the fact that I got to spend four hours with my Son #3 was a gift I really wanted. Spending four hours with any of my sons would be a gift I wanted. (Yes, any of them …. for those of my children reading this who may or may not think otherwise…)
That whole man plans and God laughs is probably the truest of statements always. Husband #1 and I were driving to the Island of Long for a family bar mitzvah, and Waze took us on a route that allowed us to pass the cemetery where our fathers are. Oh, and the Lubavitcher rebbe. As we were sitting at a red light, looking over to where our fathers are hanging out, someone smashed into our car. Hard enough that Husband #1’s kippah flew into the back seat and one of my teeth is now loose. And hard enough so that the woman’s license plate made a really nice imprint on our bumper. Let’s be real, it was 45 minutes before Shabbos, everyone involved needed to be at a candle lighting somewhere, we were all grateful that we were all Jews, we exchanged information and went on our merry ways. To be dealt with at another time. And that was another gift that I got — Husband #1 and I were able to drive away. Thank God. A Chanukah miracle indeed.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck made a really great batch of latkes this year and tasted some really yummy donuts. It did not help her weight loss efforts, but it’s all good.