Hanukkah came "early" this year. Too early for us to prepare. Late nights and early mornings. Swim practice and meets. Sports conditioning. Academic finals for students and teachers. Coughs and colds and trips to the doctor to avoid the truancy fine. Make up homework. Long commutes in short daylight hours. No time means no latkes, no matzo ball soup, no geldt.
The Menorah, relegated to decorative status, held up two Christmas stockings. Accusing.
Chastened, we offered our oldest to the Holy Land and tracked her progress via social media. She sent the occasional text to stem the tide of maternal worry. I was a stone's throw from Gaza and survived. I was not amused by the stone's throw comment.
I developed an affinity for Grumpy Cat thanks to my bossfriend.
In the middle of the holiday ramp up, perfectly centered in the parties and decorating, the world went red and thus began the rage at the machine gun. We've become a horrible caricature of ourselves. Social media has enabled us to put a megaphone to the microphone. Deafening.
I retreated a little, seeking refuge in inappropriate, but mostly private humor.
Short of gift ideas for the children, I made tasteless jokes about purchasing guns, ammo and whiskey to protect them from lurking danger. If adding more danger to dangerous situations is the answer, then I'm all for providing them with the means to protect themselves. Give them STDs or give them death! Don't tread on their need to text and drive! Bike helmets are a slippery slope, I tell you what.
Or to misquote one of my favorite movies Brighton Beach Memoirs "If Wayne LaPierre taught logic in school, this would be one fucked up and heavily-armed world."
Not that it isn't already.
Christmas was a simple affair. Small, practical gifts for Nathan and Sophie. Chloe's absence felt a foregone conclusion. One day our family would likely scatter, too. We ate. Fudge, chocolate kisses and stars, clementines, cinnamon rolls, Chinese takeout.
Turns out the best gift of all really can't be purchased at a Walmart, ordered on Amazon, wrapped in a big red ribbon in the driveway or exchanged for store credit. It can't be loaded with ammo, requires no batteries, isn't made by slave labor in Asia and doesn't take up space in the basement when the novelty wears off.
Enough to realize that each comes by their quirks and diagnoses honestly. Have I ever mentioned how my husband eats his meals in sequence, finishing one item on his plate before moving on to the next? All the broccoli must be eaten before he takes a bite of chicken.
I've made my contribution, as well. Too bad none of the children inherited my need for order, instead opting for anger management issues and anxiety.
Thankfully, we have something that brings us together. Something upon which we can agree. Dr. Who. A Christmas Story. Harmony, a sweet interlude between revoking driving privileges and explaining again why dishes must be unearthed from bedrooms and delivered to the kitchen.
And the only thing I required besides my reading glasses, a burrowing deep into the covers. Read, sleep, consider writing, consider cocktails. Reject both. Netflix, Acorn TV. Eat more chocolate. Promises to myself that after this long winter's nap, I'll take this store of energy and do something with it.