Last Hanukkah I wore a navy-blue floor-length dress my mom picked out for me. I’m an atheist, and Hanukkah’s the only Jewish holiday I ever really cared about, because it meant being with my family and exchanging gifts with them. We always had a “Hanukkah shrub,” which is what Jewish kids get when they really want a Christmas tree. We put the presents under the tree each day and then took turns opening them at night. There was a cool draft running through our old, creaky house, but I nestled under my mom’s thick wool cardigan as I sat beside her on the couch. My parents weren’t fighting. And the kids were laughing. It was nice.
On Saturday, the first night, I got almost every present I’d asked for. There was a fire going in the fireplace, which actually worked because the new house is new. If my mom had been there she wouldn’t have needed a cardigan at all. My sister got a cell phone and my brother got a Furby, and they were very very happy. My dad got slippers and wine and a bathrobe and was not (but he looked like he was). I looked at my new house and my new family and wasn’t sure if I was or not. ♦