Getting Back to Getting Back

I have not posted on this thing for months. Not in a journal or on scraps of paper much, either. There have been a few essays, but little else besides what I scrawl in my head.

I’ve become shy and prude, at least on paper, not talking, never divulging thoughts on the election, not my new baby nephew, not our community, not weather, nail polish, or what is going on in Israel. Not really anything. And time has passed. See? There are no longer even leaves. We are at the edge of a new year, even.


How does one get back to it, to writing or anything they did? They do it, the thing they were without. They go back to the meetings they missed, back to raising a hand and being noticed, to tying up shoes for a run though it’s been forever and they will limp along like road more Hunchback than Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

I will start although I’ve missed decades of dates, forgotten milestones that number the hundreds, more than the crumbs in my box of panko. y youngest child is now half a year old, a day or two from crawling, and the middle one is a boy who only jumps from the fourth steps, never walks down. We have been down to one fish. Our house is stocked with two boxes of mikan, and everyone but me is asleep. I’ll start with this:


Things I Missed But Am Writing Now 1):

*My daughter lost that first ever front tooth, finally lost that cute, stubborn snaggletooth, right before leaving for the Hanukkah party. It’s been her parallel universe with the character Junie B. Jones who also loses that first top tooth. I disciplined her brother who actually hit her tooth with a ROCK while on our dog walk/ride around the neighborhood. This tooth has been through the ringer. The rock is still in my coat pocket because I told J I would be showing his father. I have a rock in my herringbone pocket, guys–(same coat that is crying for dry cleaning with its tooth-sized grape juice spill on the back). It’s all evidence, isn’t it. Sigh, smile, oi vey, and that other beautiful yiddish phrase, ver veyst.

(Oh the highs and oh, the lows. Growing can be summed up by the losing and getting of teeth, plus also, sibling assault and making up).


It was the BEST DAY for her—total rock star mode that dissolved with a sad fizzle when she discovered it was lost and thrown out. She will never ever let a fallen-out tooth stay in a wadded tissue because that looks like trash and this was a number one kind of treasure. It was so sad and unfair that I scolded her with such passion and verve, I held myself back from actually diving into the bag of Hanukkah party trash to find the tooth because one cannot actually think to look inside tissues for a white six-year-old-tooth when they may have to go through snot. Why, O why did she not just ask me to hold onto the tooth for her? It would have stayed in my pocket. It would be under her pillow now.


And we are not doing so hot over here, from the ratio of kept tooth to total abysmal losses—one tooth she kept/or maybe it is lost by now. The second lost tooth she accidentally ate with her cracker/Japanese osembei. This momentous third, as you know, is in a pile of snotty trash. At least lost things make decent stories. She will always know that Hanukkah parties and wadded tissue balls of teeth do not mix well.


So, you see, I am starting with that. I don’t know what this blog will be or what I will really continue to craft with my time. I do know that I still want to catalog moments of our family’s highs and lows, track what it is to grow. I’ll start again if even other with lost things. A kind of retracing of steps and finding if I can stand up straight and make strides again.

If she relied on us, the tooth fairy would be out of work. She would be sleeping on a friend’s couch, for sure, and not eating anything as fancy as latkes or roast beef. She would nibble on foraged, mushy mushrooms and frozen carrots. And she’d find rocks in our pockets.

Okay. Starting with that.

“There’s No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein”

So if someone wanted to avoid certain holidays, like if they were a scrooge or something, they could move far away, across the seas, over to a country like Japan. Except, Western holidays are here, too. Santa-san visits my daughter’s school and the company Christmas party; there are wreaths and trees in stores, and Kentucky Fried Chicken has somehow convinced everyone that Americans dine on greasy buckets of their chicken for their fancy Christmas dinner. You, therefore, have to reserve said chicken a good while in advance.

It is handy living here for Halloween, a holiday I’m not so into. I’ll take the candy, thanks very much, but you can keep your goblins and skulls and All Hallows Eve. Just throw me your candy corn and a giant Twix.

And I love the sights and sounds, the panettone, and Buche de Noel of Christmas. It is my dream to belt out O Come, O Come, Emanuel or Silent Night, on stage, or just door to door, carolling. I think I’m Idina Menzel or the whole Glee Cast when it comes to Christmas songs. Forget about Elf–I think I could out-shower sing cute-what’s-her-face.  The thing is, since our daughter is now three, and oh-so-with-it-in-understanding, something has risen up in me. The deep inner-workings of Jewish Mama, that’s what. The whole, “There’s No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein.” 

My parents read that little paperback to us and it’s really something–you practically have to campaign for Chanukah. There is something deep there that knows our Jewish children will want to take part in Christmas. I, myself, want to! Especially as I believe in the Messiah. Luckily, I later got stepparents who were non-Jews. Meaning, we got Christmas! All wrapped up– stockings, and British Christmas crackers, too!  I love every scent and song, every movie, soundtrack, snack, and meal (except the roast ham, that is).


Is Santa-san bringing me a gift, too?

We have to root for Chanukah, sell it strong, because our kids will ask about getting our own Christmas tree. They will petition for the beauty of twinkling lights, the chubby man in red.

Foreigners will come up and ask them if the’ve been good for Santa. Your kids will give you confused, furrowed looks. “Who’s him,” she’ll ask, suspiciously, as we part from the stranger. All the hubub of catching Santa at their father’s Christmas party, only to arrive a few minutes too late. No present, just a blur of something red.

And you’d think it would be easy, here in Japan, to just let it roll by, me teaching those carols in spurts, and educating with the Macy’s Day Parade, after they’ve been thoroughly taught on the miracle and warmth of Chanukah.


But Santa-san is here. Songs have been translated and my kid’s teacher is asking everyone who has trees and suggesting Santa-san will bring her something. Her eyes are gleaming. She is checking the sky. Chanukah is over, early this year and celebrated on a Thanksgiving turkey-high. Her presents have already, a while ago, been hidden and then found.


And there is no multicultural curriculum, no “Happy Holidays”. There are only “Christmas parties”. No blue and white paper plates covered with dreidels, no talk of Kwanza, or winter solstice. There is no “Happy Chanukah” thrown my way. There is only Santa-san. Here, it carries no notion, no division of “Christian vs Jewish.” There is only Christmas, the warmth of flickering resplendent bulbs wrapped around Rudolph.

And after all of the rising feeling, the slight tension, the joy…

I misunderstood when I needed her to arrive at school.

She missed Santa-san. I think I was the more disappointed one, sorry I had goofed.

“It’s okay”, said my husband. “She’s Jewish.”

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PS After all this time, I had no idea our book was made into a movie!