because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

I’m Sorry The US Postal System Wrecked Your Christmas

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Dear L’il Niece and Nephew:

As you may or may not know, I absolutely hate to shop, but this year I went out and actually found cool stuff for both of you! L’il Niece, I got you that unicorn that you wanted and Nephew I was almost able to get that cool guy that you love from that awesome YouTube video to come to your house, but instead I ended up getting you a unicorn, too.

They were having a buy one/get one thing, and I figured if your sister was going to have one, what’s one more unicorn in the barn? I mean, they eat rainbows, right? So it’s not like they cost very much or anything. Anyway, I was really psyched about having completed my holiday shopping early because not only was I done in time which we all know is rare (like unicorns), but I also knew I was mailing everything with plenty of time for everything to get there in time for all the festivities.

That was waaay back on December 9, 2011.

And then, right before Christmas, your mom called me and told me that neither unicorn had arrived.

I had a bad feeling because I didn’t insure anything this year.

Anyway, as K$sha would say, I’m pretty sure I’m on the family $hit list.

And I just wanted you all to know that I apologize.

I have learned my lesson.

In the future, presents will be sent in November and from here on out, everything will be insured.

And don’t worry, your gifts will get way more interesting.

I’m thinking packs of pencils or bags of rocks.

Or both.

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year.

I love you both and hope you can forgive the United States Postal Service even though they really $uck.

Because I think we all know someone who probably deserved a lump of coal is totally loving those unicorns right now.

Any post office horror stories? Misery loves company.

Candle 6: #HanukkahHoopla

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Merry Christmas to those of you waking up to all the joys that this day signifies.

#HanukkahHoopla continues.

If you can find a moment, please consider checking out these blogs:

 These Little Waves  @galitbreen

 CiaoMom  @ciaomom

People have asked me: What exactly do Jewish people do on Christmas? Well, in case you are interested, here is a small sampling of how people responded to that very question on my Facebook page. Sorry I couldn’t quote everybody (and sorry so smeary), but you get the point.

So there you have it.

If there had been snow in these parts, a lot of us would have been skiing.

You know, no lines.

Enjoy a quick video.

Our generous sponsors Streit’s and Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of the bloggers involved with this project with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. See individual blogs for information on how to win.

What We Are: A Hanukkah Post

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When my son was a l’il dude, I tried not to bring him to the grocery store if I could avoid it. But one year, it was our turn to host the annual family Hanukkah party and twenty-four people were coming over that night, so I found myself in the grocery store for the eleventy-seventh time that week.

As a result of poor planning, I had to bring the l’il dude along.

As I zoomed down the aisles – grabbing applesauce and sour cream for the latkes — we rushed past rolls of wrapping paper featuring snowflakes, ornaments in every shape and color, lighted-reindeer for the yard, artificial garlands and wreaths, tree skirts; boxes of 100-count multi-color lights; enormous platters embossed with angels sporting sparkling halos; floppy red, velvet hats with fluffy white pom-poms at the ends; pillar candles in red and green and gold; Godiva chocolates wrapped in boxes with bows and six-packs of chocolate Santas wrapped in silver foil.

It was full-blown Christmas in that grocery store.

My 4-year old – who had spent the last 18 months of his life at a Jewish Community pre-school surrounded by other children who did the same things in their homes that we did in ours — sat trapped inside the grocery cart. He eyed the Christmas fixins with curiosity; his head whipped from side to side, taking it all in.

“Know what’s weird?” my son started tentatively.

I heard his words, but I didn’t.

I needed to find the tuna fish.

And another carton of eggs for the egg salad.

I needed jelly filled donuts.

And I needed more oil. More oil for the latkes.

“What’s weird is that there is so much Christmas stuff because almost nobody celebrates it.”

I stopped pushing the cart.

I looked at my sweet, innocent son.

I thought:

How do I explain that Jews make up 0.2% of the world population?

That in the United States we comprise 1.7% of the population.

That when he starts kindergarten in September, he will likely be the only Jewish kid in his class.

That people might not like him because he is Jewish.

That, once, store owners wouldn’t allow me to clean my clothes in their laundromat because I was Jewish.

That millions of people have been killed throughout history because of their love of Torah. Because of their desire to preserve generations of religious and cultural traditions.

I rubbed my son’s spiky crew cut and I told him this:

“There are many people in this big world and you will find that people celebrate things in lots of ways. Hopefully, when you get older, you will have friends who will invite you to their houses to celebrate Christmas. And a hundred other holidays that you don’t even know about yet. Because there are a eleventy-million-bajillion ways to celebrate what is close to our hearts. And each way is wonderful. Hanukkah is just one way. But it’s ours.”

My son smiled.

And like the wish that it was, it has come to pass.

My l’il dude is now 12 years old. And he has celebrated Christmas with friends. And Kwanzaa. And Eid. And Diwali. He loves being invited to experience how his friends celebrate their assorted religious and cultural traditions. He feels proud to have tasted everything from stollen to chickpea curry. He has sampled poori, spicy khaja, and sweet and nutty desserts like atte ka seera. My boy’s ears have heard many dialects, and he is fluent in laughter. He can understand a smile in any language. He has learned the stories behind why people do what they do, and he understands their beliefs are as right and precious to his friends and their families as ours are to us.

He has sampled many different ways to be.

But he has never wanted to be anything other than what he is.

Other than what we are.

• • •

Now go read Life in The Married Lane by the amazing Rivki Silver.

I would like to thank Streit’s and Doni Zasloff Thomas a.k.a. Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band for providing each of the 16 bloggers involved in #HanukkahHoopla with a little cyberswag.

Click on the button below to be connected to the other bloggers involved in the #HanukkahHoopla project!


"Out of The Closet" by Chrissy Teague

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This piece was written by a former student from Monroe Community College, Crissy Teague. She is one smart, beautiful, tough cookie.

image from google.com

Everything I own in the world fits behind two locked closet doors. Last year I divorced, got fired and denied for unemployment. My nine-year old  and I moved back home with my mother. I felt lost. What could I control? I could take care of what little I owned. I locked away clothes, movies, CD’s, shoes, video games and hygiene products. No one would borrow or damage what was “mine.” It belonged to me. My thirteen year-old sister would no longer take my clothes without asking, not even the dirty ones — (I locked the hamper up too). Everything changed, but I would be  in control of my little world.

Then, my son threw two mega fits while we accompanied my mother to the mall. He first cried when I refused his request for a certain video game. Telling him to “put it on his Christmas list,” or “we can’t afford it because Mommy’s not working,” or “you hardly play the the your other Wii games” did not make the tears subside. Mega fit number two came when I gave him a caramel rice cake topped with peanut butter to snack on. His lack of gratitude, and double dose of tears in two hours resulted in up a “starving kids in Africa” speech.

Fuming, I sat arms crossed. How could my child be so ungrateful? Why is he so selfish/self-centered? After a few moments I realized, this behavior is learned: Narcissism as taught by me. I remembered my belongings under lock and key. I’ve been doing this all wrong. Not just training my child, but living. My new conviction: God did not breathe life into me so I could horde pleasures for myself then die, an empty existence.

guest blogger, Crissy Teague

The little I own in the closets now seems like too much. It’s time to come out of the closets. I will give to my local community. I will go through my movies/video games and donate to local orphanages. My son has extra toys, books to give to a daycare, or hospital children’s wing, or library. A dozen fancy dresses and shoes can go to the Fairy Godmother project. Instead of spending nights indoors watching movies, my son and I will volunteer. It is better to give than to receive. I’m going to give my son a rich legacy—a legacy of giving to others.

What are you holding onto that might benefit someone else? Needs have never been greater. What better time to give than now? You may feel like you don’t have much. I understand. I’m a jobless single mother coming out of two closets. I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to give. I challenge you to do what you can. Our relatives, our friends, our neighbors need us. The quality of community is in our hands. Who knows the outcome? The life you change may be your own.