My parents presented each of us with Hanukkah gifts. Not a first, but sufficiently rare to have been a surprise.
Even when my sisters and I were children, gift-giving was generally designated for birthdays. For Hanukkah, we typically received a little mesh bag of chocolate “gold coins,” perhaps accompanied by a handful of real coins, essential to the playing of dreidl.
But Hanukkah was still special to me. The lighting of the colored candles, the singing and the latkes with applesauce and sour cream constituted sufficient pageantry to make an impression.
Although those celebrating Christmas with enormous piles of presents under the tree might beg to differ, we lacked for nothing. If we hankered after something reasonable in, say, March or August, one way or another we usually got it (sooner or later). And avoiding mindless shopping based on the page of the calendar helped us to avoid destructive habits of acquisitiveness, avarice and poor money management.
So it was a bit of a surprise when my mother brought out a box of wrapped gifts and began distributing them. There were puzzles, lotions, sachets, candy and, for me, a bag of coffee ice cream flavored coffee, already ground. I know it will be delicious.
Meanwhile, my sister and her husband outdid themselves in the kitchen. This was my first taste of broiled tofu (we usually sautée it), which was heavenly. And there was a homemade apple pie, vegan and gluten-free. For the second day running, we ate until we were stuffed.
In addition to Hanukkah, today was my father’s eightieth birthday. It is difficult for me to believe he has reached that age. As must be common to most children, I will always think of him as a young man in his thirties and forties.
It is strange how, as we grow up, time seems to stand still in regard to our parents.
My parents specified that we should bring no gifts to this occasion, but we ignored that request. Not that my father is easy to buy for. He has become proficient in the use of the internet in recent years, and he buys the books and movies he wants online. New clothes just don’t do it for him, as he prefers to wear old duds, even after they’ve sported holes and stains.
But all is not lost.
Thanks, Sam Adams!