Following up on my post from last week.
As the nation now knows, our beloved Orange took it on the chin from the Oklahoma Sooners last Friday, thus ending their great '08-'09 campaign. Friday night we shared dinner with friends at a Hibachi steak house (the kids were amazed at the techniques), and then we gathered at ourplace so the dads could watch the second half and the kids could play. Although the game was on, my kids were more interested in Barbies - can't blame them. Although, as the game came to a close and the sadness of another season ending played out across my face, my oldest came to my side and asked what was wrong. I said "Syracuse lost." She promptly teared up, a sad little frown cut across her face, and her lip started to quiver as she said "But I didn't want them to lose," and she climbed onto the couch for a brief but heartfelt cry.
Indoctrination complete - she is now a true fan.
And now...on to OPENING DAY!
Given that we're smack dab in the middle of March Madness, I would like to give some quick but well-deserved props to my wife for giving me the space to not only watch my beloved Syracuse Orange blow through the Big East Tourney (save for one game) and into the NCAA Tourney Sweet 16, but also for letting me indoctrinate my two daughters into "Orange Nation."
Yesterday, my daughters received in the mail the two SU t-shirts I bought for them from Manny's on the Hill in Syracuse. They immediately put them on and paraded around the house chanting "Let's go Orange!" as I smiled proudly.
By the way, my 5-year old likes Paul Harris because "he's strong."
My 3-year old likes Andy Rautins..."because he plays for Syracuse."
Wow. I didn't realize how long it's been since I posted. Things got away from me during the holidays, and before I know it, here it is almost April. It would've been longer had it not been for....yep...you guessed it...my dear Mother-in-law, who kindly busted my chops at an engagement party last weekend about not posting recently.
So here's an interesting thing I never considered before. My wife and I are planning to move, from our townhome to a single family home closer to the office. In planning and scouting, I did what any other guy with my background would do. I got out the map, set the maximum drive distances, and plotted the towns we could comfortably consider.
My wife's first question: how close is the synagogue?
Of course, growing up, churches are a dime a dozen. Name a town, and you've got multiple options. Spread your consideration set to the next towns over and you'd have a different church for every day of the week.
I never considered this issue...but now I do. So now in addition to schools, taxes, neighborhood safety, thru-traffic, and easements, I add a box for Synagogue...
...kosher butcher is another consideration that came up...but I can live with tofu and veggies.
I've heard that there is some old adage about having a Jewish mother-in-law...I'm not sure what it says exactly, and I believe it has a bit of a negative connotation, kinda like that 60's song by Ernie K-Doe; but whoever said it first didn't know my mother-in-law.
I gotta give my Mother in law major props, because every year around the holidays she goes out of her way to make me feel a little more at home in my new family.
For example, she called my wife the other day to ask what we were doing on Christmas Day (no, not to ask us out for Chinese food and a movie), and hoped we could get together to spend the day with the family. My wife said it was because she didn't want me to feel down and out that day. Every year she sends a Christmas card specifically addressed to me. She wraps my holiday gifts in green and red paper and ribbon, and wishes me a Merry Christmas on Christmas Day either by phone or in person.
I think that says alot about my mother-in-law -- she's always made it very clear about her love for the Jewish faith and culture, and its rich traditions (she is in fact Conservative). But at the same time, her acknowledgement of my own background, upbringing and most of all feelings, shows that she isn't simply ignoring the fact that I'm not a "part of the Tribe" (as my wife's friends say) or hoping that I'll have a sudden attack of JCE (Judaic Conversion Epiphiny - check the PDR, I think it's listed under "neuro disorders" - just kidding ;-))
While I know she probably hopes that someday I will make the leap, for now, she seems content with letting me be who I am. The ironic thing is that I became disillusioned with organized religion early on because it came off as intolerant (is that irony? that's always a tricky one, isn't it?). But then again the raging paradox of religious tolerance is a topic for another time...for now, I'll just look forward to running downstairs on December 25th, wolfing down some potato latkes, filling up on gelt, and tearing into my Christmas present.
Today was Thanksgiving, and the family and I spent the morning in NYC enjoying the festivities of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from the midtown offices of my company. The announced crowd of 250 people at the parade viewing party enjoyed the view from the 16th floor overlooking Broadway, the floats, ballons and bands marching by. Food and drink were abundant, and the kids (all 100 of them) in attendance were treated to face painting, magicians, puppeteers and a visit from Santa Claus.
Ah yes, jolly ol' Saint Nick. My childhood image of holiday cheer has become a bone of contention in my adult life. Now that my kids are old enough to recognize him, the concept of Santa during the holidays has been challenging. Until this year, we've been able to avoid any direct contact with Kris Kringle, shuffling the kids through the mall past the mile-long line for pictures on Santa's lap. But this year, we came face-to-face with it.
Santa visited the 16th floor today with gifts for every child in attendance at the party (a special thanks again to my most generous boss). Hannah Montana has nothing on this guy. Kids were wall to wall in the hallway outside the elevator and as soon as the doors opened, my daughters - who knew of Santa only through tales from their Gentile friends at school and the occassional Dora holiday episode - screamed in delight like I've never heard before. Santa rolled his flatbed cart off the elevator and proceeded to call out the names of every child in attendance, presenting them with a gift. My oldest received Pediatrician Barbie; my youngest, a Cinderella dress up kit.
The kids were ecstatic. My oldest yelled out "Santa is so cool!" And as I looked at them I realized that they haven't yet drawn the definitive line of separation bewteen Hanukkah and Christmas, so I was content with enjoying their excitement. But this time of year also reminds me that my kids will never put out cookies and milk, never leave a note and a list by the fireplace, never hang a stocking with their name on it and rush downstairs fervently to tear open the goodies spilling out from the top.
However, that's okay - because those are my memories, and I'll always have them and hold them close; and I'll make new holiday memories with my kids that we'll define together, that they'll grow up to cherish. Maybe Hanukklaus would enjoy a refreshing seltzer and knish as he passes through this year.
My oldest daughter has a small collection of little plastic dreidels. Sometimes she randomly pulls them out of her toybox to play with them. Just the other day, she figured out how to spin one for the first time.
She was beaming - a grin from ear to ear, as was proud papa (of course, whenever your kid figures out how to do something, and you see that confidence brimming, you can't help but love it.) But then, the dreidel stopped spinning...and my problem started.
"Daddy - what letter is that?"
Look, I, like every other dad, wants to be the hero. We want our kids to believe we can do anything, and that we know anything. Broken toy? Daddy can fix it. How does a frog jump? I got it. Financial derivatives? No sweat. We need our kids to feel like they can always rely on us, and we'll come through. That's what we live for - call it ego if you want, but it's what every dad aspires to.
And I've fixed a TON of stuff to prove my worthinees of being called "Dad"; but it all came crashing down with one simple question related to a little plastic toy. I was forced to look my darling daughter straight in the eye and say those three words that can bring an image crashing to earth: "I don't know."
Look - those letters all look alike. I can't even say it may as well be Greek to me because I had the Greek alphabet drilled into me during pledging in college (different blog for a different time). I tried to recall last year's rousing game of dreidel with my highly enthusiastic father-in-law (whom I love dearly) - how does it go? Shin, put one in? But no dice...
I couldn't tell if she was confused (as in "wait a minute, that doesn't seem right. Daddy knows everything. Maybe I heard it wrong") or incredulously disappointed ("Wait a minute. Are you saying I've been fed a fallacy all 4 1/2 years of my life??? You mean you DON'T know anything? I've been had?!?!).
I tried to recover quickly. I followed up with "but it's okay. When you go to Hebrew school, you can teach me the letters!" hoping that empowering her with such a notion would take the sting off the cold harsh reality.
I'm not sure how that went over. She quickly moved on to the next thing that bounced itself into her mile-a-minute brain. But I wonder whether or not her image of me has been dashed, or even slightly tarnished.
I resolved at that point though to try to get my learn on with the Hebrew alphabet. So if anyone out there has any tips that helped them cheat their way through Hebrew school, I'm all ears.
Oh, and by the way, I think Vegas is missing the boat. I see dreidel tables right next to Pai-Gow Poker, and instead of chocolatey good gelt, their playing with Ben Franklins. Just a thought in case anyone is looking to take a gamble on the next big thing...