Hanukkah: We enjoyed ourselves, particularly last Sunday’s night of light and latkes and laughter with friends. I am still amazed I produced decent latkes and want to eat them all the time now. They are surprisingly easy, and I served them with fake (for me) and real sour cream and a mango-cranberry chutney. I also ate crow: I had previously not believed Tofutti’s “better than sour cream” could be anything close to the real thing (and said so, often), but it worked nicely.

However:

pH was a spoiled brat regarding gifts. Every day, except the stilts day and the day my husband got her an Xbox game (it was the last day and I was going to get cash–actually traditional!–but decided against it at the last minute), she was a complete PITA about gifts…like not even saying thank you until kH prompted her. I don’t know if this is an age thing, if we’re doing something wrong, or what the deal is. I do know there will never, ever be eight nights of gifts again and that she’s going to start volunteering in 2015.

But perhaps it’s my fault. (I am prone to thinking everything is my fault, anyway, so why not this?) I would love to have a husband who picked out thoughtful gifts for me based on my elaborate Etsy, Amazon, or other wish lists…but I don’t. Once, for my birthday, he had specific instructions (“I want THIS EXACT RING” with a picture and instructions of which store to go to; it was very symmetrical, involving pearls and white gold and was both modern and still evocative of traditional Moroccan jewelry) but instead got me this thing that looked like a blob of yellow gold burped up some pearls, and I just…I couldn’t. I couldn’t fake it, and later we went back and picked something out together (that I love and am frequently complimented on, but who knows, maybe he resents seeing it). I was really apologetic and felt terrible, but there was no way I could wear it…but he is very sensitive.

Now we have a budget. Each person has the same dollar amount, and I’m the one who picks the things for pH, generally, and otherwise, we buy our own stuff, and I have that great Etsy wishlist. I don’t know why I keep hoping he will randomly surprise me with something awesome for my birthday, the winter holiday, or our anniversary. I have never articulated this at home, and I’m not sure I’ve even admitted it outside my journal until now…so perhaps being ungrateful is bred in the bone.

On day six or seven, when she was particularly rude–down to folded arms and a “Humph!”– and knowing that kH would understand my intention with this and not be offended, I sat her down and said, “Who bought me Hanukkah gifts, pH? You?” That seemed to get through, and she hugged me and said thanks and was slightly less obnoxious. I don’t know. I understand being disappointed with gifts, but I was working off of her wish lists. The kid knows how Amazon works.

Christmas: We didn’t celebrate Christmas, obviously, but we did all attend the Portland Revels the Saturday before. The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is one of pH’s favorite songs (I like it, too; when I was pregnant I would often play it on the cello) and she has been playing it on the piano since she discovered I had a Revels songbook. I don’t think she expected it to be performed in the dark, and I wish I’d explained the fool and the hobby-horse ahead of time, although I had mimed the antlers and the dance for her one night, months ago, when I was trying to get her to go to sleep (more on that below).

My favorite part was before the performance, realizing there was a Christmas carol requiring audience participation (I hadn’t gone since before pH was born, I don’t think).

I looked at pH, seated between us, and said, “Okay, kid, since you’re a godless heathen, let me show you how to sing a hymn. You start with the top line–”

“I’m a godless heathen?”

“Yup.”

“Oh, okay.”

She managed to sing mostly in tune and, later in other songs, when Latin was called for, did significantly better than the woman on my right (whose singing was so dreadful I wanted to kick her). It probably helped that pH has heard Dona Nobis Pacem often because Songs of Joy & Peace is on my cello playlist and I sing it around the house. And yes, I did drag her out to dance to Lord of the Dance, to her initial mortification but then ultimate delight, especially after she was given a crown of ivy and ribbons.

(Maybe this is the problem with gifts: she is usually such a charming child when we are out and about that people just give her things. It happens all the time.)

Actually, the best part of the Revels was kH enjoying himself, and saying so, several times. Getting him out to do things–especially theater-y things–is nigh near impossible. And he really, really had fun.

Christmas Eve: pH and I went to the zoo. It was cold and drizzly and empty–in my opinion, the perfect day. It’s like we owned the place. We ran into a longtime volunteer (and I think former staffer) and I had a wonderful time learning more about the animals and some behind the scenes stuff. (And how often does someone say to pH, or to anyone ever, “Oh, this is the first time I’ve met another person with a stuffed okapi!”) We met friend RGP there and had lunch, then picked up kH from work (the Secretary of [Department] let them off early, per usual).

However, Portland double-charged me for zoo parking. (Does anyone know how easy it is to get that fixed?)

Christmas Day: We kept forgetting it was Christmas. I don’t remember what I did. Read? Gamed? Maybe I wrote? I don’t know. I wasn’t feeling great. I slept until almost eleven–definitely something that would not have happened if we’d been celebrating the holiday.

Boxing Day: I’m always vague on what Boxing Day is all about, but in my case, it would be sleeping all day (wearing wool clothing and underneath a down comforter and a wool throw and STILL freezing) and then staying up all last night thanks to what was probably a rotavirus. I also received a very long lecture on why I hadn’t made an appointment with my gastroenterologist after having been told to by kH for months. But props to him for going out and getting me medicine when I was writhing in pain. (In the second decade of marriage, this is better than a good gift-giving husband.)

December 27 (early): The good news is that seems to be a short-term, one way virus. I had sushi for lunch (kH went out to get it). Again: the husband who brings sushi is a good husband.

Bad news: it hit pH this afternoon. kH is still okay.

December 27 (late): More nighttime drama. Despite having the room directly next to us, pH is freaked out about being alone at night. (We live in a tiny condo; how can she be alone?) I don’t get this, but I was not an only child. I would have killed [a sibling or three] to have my own room at her age, but instead, we have a single child, drama, an 8 o’clock bedtime…and at around 10 tonight (I’ve been working on this post for hours, in between reading stories, doing the usual routine, and then dealing with endless hysterics), I finally lost my temper and explained that all I want is quiet. Just once. Just one night. Quiet. I don’t yell, but I do enunciate V-E-R-Y D-E-L-I-B-E-R-A-T-E-L-Y when I’m angry, so either I got through to her or she got so bored during my spiel that she fell asleep. (I don’t care. It was quiet.)

Hopefully we will have no drama regarding thank you notes (these are actually not hard to motivate her to do, and usually are accompanied by pictures). The rule is they have to be done before New Year’s Day (it was our rule, growing up), and even with Hanukkah being early, I’ve decided it’ll do.