Friday, November 28, 2008


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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to school

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...