Okay, okay, so I flubbed Chanuka. (chag sameach, by the way)
Partially, this was an accident of good intentions: after much discussion revolving around our lack of, um, discussions (okay, communication), I tried to sort through the household miniutae to see where I could comfortably include the Man. Chanuka presents seemed a good bet.
This is how it went:
Me (emerging from my study/DONOTENTER:working/room where we stash junk destined to go somewhere else...someday): I've got some Chanuka gift ideas for the kids. Should I narrow them down, or do you want to help me hunt?
The Man (lifting his earphones off his ears): wha?
Me (holding a fistful of catalogs and notes): do you want to look at these with me, or should I narrow them down?
The Man (recovering from his weekly Presidential podcast): um, well, ah - no, you narrow it down first. Got to go argue with Congress about insurance for children.
So off I go. I have a working budget of about $30 for the kids, plus S&H. And I have rules. No batteries, no small pieces, no cartoon/Disney/commercialized characters. No DVD/computer games. Oh, and both kids need to be able to play with it. Something that takes small hands and brains and imagination. Something that will help me reverse-engineer the perfect child. Easy, no?
Me: Okay, I have a couple of ideas.
The Man (leafing through my clippings and notes): oh, but they already have construction toys. Let's not - oh, no, not that either - nope, I can't see that working - oh, um, no. I don't think so. Good luck, honey!
Me: mumble grumble head onna stick mumble
We hesitated over this (medium small pieces, enough for both children to play), debated this (fun, but flying things in the house? how much trouble is this asking for? maybe I should loosen up?) or one of these. I lusted briefly after this (toy control!), and this (for the Man and the Eldest, both, right?) or any of these (ooooh - I do love me construction toys). But the budget and the rules prevailed, so we settled on this for the Toddles, who adores puzzles and building, and this in softcover for the number-loving Eldest, plus a set of fraction magnets.
Had I not actually ordered everything on Sunday, we might have been okay. But nope, Sunday it was, and there we were last night, present-less. That's okay, I consoled myself, we'll have Chanuka before we have the Festival of Presents. I wonder if I can figure out a vegan, gluten-free latke? Yup, I felt pretty good about that.
One bleed and one trashed day in a series of trashed and scraping-by days later, a tired and hungry mama sat down to dinner with overtired, napless and hungry Toddles and a end-of-day+post bleed=uber-fragile Eldest. Oh yes, and he was hungry too - he said so, loudly and repeatedly all the way home. ALL THE WAY HOME. (and of course I keep food in the car! This was, apparently, entirely besides the point.) The Man was in a meeting at work, and promised to make it home...eventually.
Mum, it's Chanuka today! Do we have candles? A menora?
wearily, yes. After dinner.
Mummummummum - what about presents?
Erm. Eat your dinner.
It was astonishingly clear to me: if I give the kids stuff, then they will be happy. If I don't give them stuff, then the Eldest will realize that he's missing a stuff-opportunity, and be unhappy. I found myself absolutely unable to manage even the thought of trying to console a disappointed child. I was just....too....tired.
So I did what any sensible woman would do. I poured a cup of coffee, pulled out my cell phone and texted the Man: tomorrow I am calling in sick.
And I did. Wise is the Man who heeds the Mama...