‘Tis The Season To Be Absolutely Crazed by: Catrina Chatelain
This past weekend was ridiculously manic. I don’t want to be yet another woman singing that “woe-is-me-I’m-so-busy-doing-it-all” song, but please give me a pass and allow me to chortle a few versus for a quick minute.
I was actually forewarned of the craziness to come when on Friday afternoon I went to pick up a menorah and was unable to find one. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best decision for me to wait to the day before to get this done, but as it often goes, my schedule was packed with back-to-back commitments, so this was a task that was continuously pushed to a later date. Ours is a bi-faith household, so the previous night I had successfully gotten a beautiful Christmas tree, and after checking homework, cooking dinner, assisting with bath time for both girls, and then reading bedtime stories I was able to have it completely decorated and the apartment cleaned by three am. Wonderful! I was lulled into thinking that the Hanukkah kick-off would go as smoothly…mistake number one.
While the inability to find a menorah should’ve clued me in to the trouble ahead, a feverish, puking ten year old should’ve really sounded the alarm. My oldest woke me early Friday morning (about two hours after I’d finished that tree) with tears in her eyes and clutching her waist whimpering that her throat was on fire and her tummy was queasy. As I reached up to feel her forehead for a fever she opened her mouth and projectile vomited all over me and my husband, our bed, and my beloved rug upon which she stood. She and I stared at each other in shock for a few seconds before she turned, and in her usual dramatic fashion ran screaming from our room.
“Why is she screaming when we’re the ones covered in vomit?” I asked my husband incredulously. After spending the next 30 minutes switching out linen, showering, and trying desperately to rid my rug of my daughter’s salute I was reminded of why after I had children I no longer thought the comic effect often used in movies of children projectile vomiting was funny. I never laugh at those parts anymore. Never.
Back to that menorah hunt- I continued it Saturday afternoon after spending the morning baking for a holiday party the next night and prepping the food for our Hanukkah kick-off feast that evening, but I clearly should’ve been on it earlier, because by five pm I’d visited seven stores to no avail. Now my husband is generally an easy- going person, but I still was not looking forward to going home empty-handed. I already felt incredibly guilty that I’d a: failed to remember until the week of that the menorah had been left in our home in France, and b: had procrastinated in replacing it after I’d realized it needed to be replace. All I could do was to whisper my mantra during life’s challenges: keep it moving.
Now the whole time this holiday madness is in progress the ten year old is still in the grips of some horrific holiday virus, and I’m sanitizing like crazy to prevent the 21 month old from catching it; because who needs a tweener and a toddler engaged in a tag-team effort of projectile vomiting during the kick-off of the holiday season- and a menorah hunt?
Speaking of that menorah hunt- it was dead in the water, without a doubt, because I had no more time left to check at other shops before I had to be back home to cook and welcome our guests (but of course, we were entertaining). I had tried to cancel the celebration earlier by using the sick kid excuse, but our guests insisted on coming over anyway to experience their first Hanukkah kick-off. I felt sorry for them because I knew the motley celebration that awaited them was to be something else entirely from what was expected.
Upon returning home my husband and I hit the Internet in search of ideas for homemade menorahs (is there even such a thing?). We found several examples of menorahs done wrong, my favorite one being assembled from empty Stoli bottles. Eventually we created one out of individual silver candlestick holders we found shoved in a closet.
It couldn’t be described as traditional, but neither can our French Jew-and-Black American Christian-with-two-bi-racial-bi-faith-daughters family either, in many regards. It was absolutely beautiful though, and for us, a lovely celebration of the meaning of the occasion; eternal faith and overcoming the challenges that life so often brings, especially to those who are at the mercy of forces bigger than themselves, but not necessarily stronger. For our little family, it served as a reflection of who we are.
I know this was just the beginning of the holiday madness that descends upon the masses every year no matter if you plan ahead, are organized, are Martha Stewart, or whatever, and Christmas and all that entails looms on the near horizon for me. All I can do is accept it for what it is, and keep it moving. I found myself again whispering this a few hours after the first night celebration while on my knees, scrubbing out yet another stain from yet another beloved rug, this time as a result of my 21 month old eating part of a Hanukkah candle and her little stomach rejecting it shortly there after.
Happy Hanukkah, everyone, and keep it moving.