This is what you call an impromptu series. Just a few thoughts about Chanukah, 5768, as well as a sample of the music of the day.
Under Pressure– Queen & David Bowie
I feel like I am suffering from a bad case of cognitive dissonance or maybe it is just the icepick that someone stuck behind my left eyeball. A relatively short time ago we finished up a midweek celebration at my parent’s house. Thanksgiving revisited. The funny thing about it is that there were probably a third fewer people and it was just as loud.
“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but its sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in the relative way, but youre older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death”
Time- Pink Floyd
My children are sitting at the dining room table trying to hold it together. They are wide eyed with excitement and anticipation. One of my brother-in-laws is busy goading them into getting into trouble. I stare at him…hard. We make eye contact, but he doesn’t recognize the sign for “stop revving up my kids or I’ll take your little Hobbit ass and throw it into the snow. He is a good guy, but when common sense was offered he took the pennies instead.
My mother is on fire. I don’t know why or what she is upset about, but grandma is clearly unhappy. It is not without precedent for her to be a little tense before company arrives, but usually that dissipates within a couple of moments. And for whatever reason I am absorbing her tension.
Inside my head I imagine that I am sitting in a dark room drinking some Scotch. B.B. King and Lucille are singing The Thrill Is Gone. Stevie Ray Vaughn makes an appearance and I am caught in a Texas Flood. I have some unfinished business in Dallas, so maybe it is appropriate.
My father and I have a series of code words, looks and signs that we share. Since I have 1,876,098 sisters it was developed out of necessity. There were just some things that the girls didn’t get and frankly sometimes it was better that they didn’t understand.
At some point in my teenage years my father made a crack to me about how the other woman was always making life more difficult than necessary. I knew what he meant, because at home if it wasn’t one woman it was another. Two bathrooms, but only one shower. It had its moments.
It kind of makes me think of Cosby’s routine about chocolate cake for breakfast. If you haven’t heard it before I highly encourage you to listen. As a point of reference if this post feels stilted or disjointed it is probably because I stopped to listen to it and lost my train of thought.
Back to the present. Dinner is good. My mother’s latkes are outstanding. I try not to eat fried food, but this is not an ordinary meal or day. I consume the equivalent of three pounds of potato and console myself by saying that I ate them plain. No sour cream, no apple sauce, nothing. They were so good there was no reason to wreck them with anything else.
Later on the kids reap the rewards of being part of a big family. There are far too many gifts. One of my sisters is way too generous. I need to speak with her about this. She can easily afford to be generous and she is, but it is too much.
A short time later I am buried beneath an assortment of discarded wrapping materials. My children both approach me to say thank you. Something must be sinking in. My son says that he wishes he could have been my brother because grandpa gives more gifts than I do. My father’s laughter drowns out my sputtered protestations to the contrary.
Headache or not, it was a pretty good evening.