Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

NPR reported that holiday traffic deaths are down from last year. Yes, that’s good news. But any sentence with holiday and death together gives me the heebie-jeebies. You see, I am the parent of a college-aged kid. And every parent of a college-aged kid has what I call the “nervous wreck” days.

The nervous wreck day is when you are going about your business–doing down dogs in yoga, getting to the office, checking your email, etc.–but all the while you have one, all-consuming thought. That bedeviling, anxiety-provoking thought:

“____(fill in the blank with your child’s name) is _____(driving home, flying home, taking the bus/train home) today, just in time for ____(Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas). I hope (he, she) will have a safe trip!

You get used to your child being hundreds or thousands of miles away, going to college, and you try not to think too hard about how you spent some of your college days (me: sound asleep and drooling on my Biology textbook during a 7:30 a.m. lecture).

What I think you don’t get used to are the travel days.

Take my son, Sam, for example. Sometimes he flies. That’s okay, although I breathe a sigh of relief when I know he’s on the ground again. Sometimes he drives with a friend. It’s an eight hour drive from his liberal arts college in western Pennsylvania. During that entire 8 hour journey, I’m not exactly throwing up with anxiety, but I’m not relaxed.

What I’m warming up to saying is this: Sam came home last night for the fifth night of Hanukkah. Every hour leading up to his bursting through the door, dragging a duffel bag full of dirty laundry, I thought of him and sent out a Mom’s heartfelt wish for his safe return.

Enough oil to light a lamp for eight days–it’s a wonderful miracle.

But I’ll take the ordinary miracles, too. Sam’s grinning face as I sling him a blue and white cookie, as he peels back the gold foil on the gelt, and, alas, as the doorbell rings–it’s his high school friends come a calling. There they go, driving off into the night.

Soon after that, my son Harry is standing before me, jingling the car keys.  He has just gotten his night-driving permit.  Great.  “You’ll be home by eleven, right?  You’ll drive carefully, right?”

Harry smiles; he nods.  Then he, too, is gone.

On this sixth night of Hanukkah, I wish you all ordinary and extraordinary miracles and many happy homecomings.



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Eight Stress Free Nights of Hanukkah

My friend Erica was babbling into the phone.  Something about evil and December and a plot to drive people crazy.

“Erica,” I said. “How many cups of coffee have you had today?”

“Four, but that’s not the point.”

“Okay…well, why did you just say that you loathe the month of December?”

“Because…between my family, and my in-laws, and my office, and my husband’s office, and my kids’ and their friends, and my friends…I just got out a calculator and realized that I have to purchase 64 gifts for Hanukkah this year.”

“Wow.  Well, you don’t have to get really expensive stuff.”

“That’s only one issue.  It’s the combing of websites, it’s the clicking through order forms.  And then I finally order it, and the company wraps it in Christmas paper.  That’s why I’m calling you.  I thought, well, maybe I’ll just ask Challah Connection to send out 64 chocolate babkas.  Or 64 blue and white cookies.”

“Erica, we could do 64 babkas, 64 Hanukkah Candy Platters, whatever you want,” I said. “But don’t you want your gifts to be…you know…unique as the people you’re giving them to?”

“That’s too much to hope for.  Isn’t it?”

“What if I told you that I could send 8 nights of wrapped Chanukah gifts to one address for you and you’d only pay one shipping charge?”

“You have such a service?”


“It’s a Chanukah miracle.”

“It’s just something Sherry and I thought of to help busy people–like us.”

“But I really only need to do 3 nights for my sister’s kids.”

“No problem.”

“You mean, I don’t have to run out and buy tape and wrapping paper and Hanukkah gelt and a menorah and something nice for my Aunt Betsy like maybe…oh, God, what can I get Aunt Betsy?”

“How about “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking” wrapped and shipped for the first night?”Jewish Holiday Baking

“She’ll love that.”

It was music to my ears.

Here’s to a stress-free Hanukkah!



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