I could feel it in the parking lot at Ross yesterday. The rain was washing away my sandcastle again. I woke up around 6:30 AM feeling like I needed to find a pair of Air Jordans for Simon but time was running out because the first night of Hanukah began in the evening. I told my kids we would light the menorah at 6:30 PM so the clock was ticking.
I already had gifts for the kids but something seemed missing. I knew Air Jordans would make Simon happy and I was feeling guilty. My patience for my little sidekick has worn thin this week. I knew he could feel it and I could feel it and I wanted to make it better but every time he appeared by my side, I wanted space. I really knew it when we ran an errand shortly after waking up and he put on Hamilton. He was belting out the words and while I always loved his bravado and this music that had become our anthem in many ways, I wasn’t feeling it and I asked him to put on the radio instead.
After I dropped him at home with his sister, I was listening to All Time Low by Jon Bellion on 107.5 while my guilt drove me to Ross to find the Air Jordans. I knew I would be in good company with shoppers who would not judge me since we were all on this last minute shopapalooza together. As I entered the store, I took the cue that conversation and eye contact would distract us from our mission. It was eerily quiet and the store looked tired and I felt desperate. But I knew it was the best deal in town on holiday spirit and they have a good sneaker selection...um, well, except on Christmas Eve.
It was raining when I headed to my car empty handed. I wanted to go back to an afternoon earlier in the week when I was with my daughter delivering gifts to families at the Salvation Army. I am not tooting my horn because we do not volunteer often but it's been a year of buying stuff to feel better and my spirit was broke from it; and the water falling from the sky onto the ground was nearing my ankles now.
I walked in a little deeper when I came home to a basement filled with water and a broken water heater again. It was almost to my waist when I realized I may not have enough time to wrap their gifts and my house was a mess and I needed to call the plumber. I could feel it rising to my chin because I did not have my usual Trader Joe latkes in the freezer and I had no idea what was for dinner that night. I was in over my head when I realized how quiet our house was without music.
I had a little less than an hour left and while I imagined giving my kids unwrapped gifts and calling it a night; I decided we deserved more. I tried my best to believe that I had done more than enough this year to bring my kids as much happiness as possible and that true holiday spirit comes from a deeper place than the shelves of Ross. I knew I had it the other day as I gave away holiday spirit to strangers. It was time to move quickly because the tides are strong and unpredictable this season.
I ran with the waves back towards the shore and locked myself in my room and began wrapping. When the kids knocked, I told them the Hanukah elf was busy but we would light the Menorah at 6:30 like I had said. At 6:28, the menorah was ready and the gifts were wrapped. Zoe had her hand on the Shamash to begin lighting the first candle but I felt something was off. “Hold it. ” I said. “One more thing.”
Turning music on in our house is a challenge for me often but in the last minute before we lit the Menorah, a miracle occurred because I figured it out by exactly 6:30PM. Jay always played Johnny Cash’s Christmas album and although Little Drummer Boy by Johnny is a far cry from “I have a little dreidel”, it is one of my favorite songs. As it played throughout our house, I knew I had made it to shore even if I still had the taste of saltwater in my mouth.
We had waffles for dinner. It's a new tradition.
Johnny Cash, Little Drummer Boy