Except for the hotel room and bat franchise. This is George Clooney answering the question, “How often do you get homesick?” (W Dec. ’13 art issue). It is exactly how I feel… And why I feel blue during those holidays we don’t travel.
Yeah, in my last post I attempted in vain to be all self-affirming and positive in the new year.
Here’s the context: I have a horrible cold, our daughter has pink eye, our son is recovering from the bug that probably gave her pink eye, and we spent the holidays with each other, our little nuclear family, which was lovely, but I miss my family terribly.
We “face timed” with them, and I watched my nieces eat their grilled cheese sandwiches or sit in my mom’s lap, and they watched our girl do cartwheels on the front lawn and our son ride his bike down the sidewalk. And when we ended our little iPad session I wanted to cry.
My mother-in-law was here for a week, during half of Hanukkah, and that was also lovely, but it’s just not the same as being around my brother and sister and in-laws and nieces and nephews and my parents at Christmastime.
I baked Hello Dolly bars, because they remind me of home. I would have made popovers, too (a Christmas morning tradition) but I didn’t have the right style baking tin.
My husband knows this is a mopey time for me, and is sorry we aren’t having some big social event at our home, some kind of gathering — some kind of anything to make all the pretty decorations in our house, to make our home’s overall cozy and inviting vibe, to make this Hindu’s need to honor the season, not all be in vain.
But they are, sometimes, in vain. One’s efforts. My efforts.
It’s a yucky feeling.
Or maybe it’s just my cold.
Legend has it (and when I say “legend” I mean, “family recollection”) that I convinced our dad to get a Christmas tree (in our non-Christian household) because I expressed an understanding that we didn’t have a tree because we couldn’t afford it. That’s an unacceptable thought in my dad’s mind, that one of his children thought he couldn’t provide for the family. A tree was trimmed. Lights were hung. For the next 20 or so years.
Enter our daughter. She came last week, describing with much enthusiasm her teacher’s plans for rewarding the class for good behavior and outcomes: a Christmas party, wherein the classroom would be lit with lights, there would be treats, it would be fabulous.
I said, I thought lightly, “Well that’s great, we celebrate Hanukkah at home, but yeah, Christmas parties are cool.”
Our daughter couldn’t manage the two opposing forces. Her expression turned dark. I asked what was wrong.
“Well, we don’t celebrate Christmas. I don’t know what I’ll do at the party.”
I reassured her that she could be at any party and enjoy any fun she wanted, that I was only talking about what we did in our house, and blah blah blah… I made no sense to a 7-year-old’s black-and-white, yes-or-no, what-the-heck-does-ecumenical-mean mind.
I promised her we would decorate our home. I promised her I would let her teacher know that she’d like to share Hanukkah traditions at her class party (we’re not sure her teacher knows that she is not a Christmas celebrator, per se).
Our son meanwhile, chimed in, with a desperate tone, “Will Santa come here?”
I promised that yes, Santa would come here. I tried to explain that Santa comes everywhere, especially when you have a big family that celebrates Hanukkah (Daddy’s side) and Diwali (Mommy’s side) and Christmas (aunt’s and uncle’s sides).
Our daughter then asked about Kwaanza. I couldn’t elaborate on that one very well, but I concluded that the holidays are a time for love and family and peace and joy and that’s all that mattered. Maybe I told them to brush their teeth and go to bed at that point, I don’t remember.
Today, at our daughter’s insistence, we decorated the outside of the house with lights. Blue lights. Blue for Hanukkah. Our girl asked us when we’d add in the brightly lit animal sculptures and Santas, like some of our neighbors have. I said, “Oh, that’s not really our style.”
Later tonight, we drove through town. Many homes and yards were fully decorated. We ooohed and aaaahed. We arrived back home, to see our dark blue icicle LED lights outlining our roofline, as well as casting some pretty rockin’ reflections on our home, little blue orbs all over the place… very Disco. I love it.
Our girl noted, “I think I like these blue lights. Nobody else has them.”
And at about the same time she was uttering these words, I received a text from a neighbor, whose son told her, “I love those! Can we have blue lights even though we’re not Jewish?”
Happy trimming, lighting, and loving, all of you out there.