I’m blessed to have an extended network, from family to friends, of generous folks in my life who enjoy the practice of gift-giving come holiday time. Each year, despite my protests that there’s nothing I actually want or feel I’m missing, I find myself showered with things like fuzzy slippers, cute accessories, scented hand lotion, and other such luxuries that I do enjoy but typically won’t go out of my way to buy for myself. The truth is, I’ve always been somewhat of a minimalist, preferring experiences to physical things that take up space in my house. (Get me a museum pass or concert tickets over a purse any day.) And also, I have a tendency to get pretty (very) uptight about clutter.
So this year, when those kind people in my life ask what I want for Hanukkah, I’m going to be honest. Instead of blowing them off with my typical, “Oh, no need to get me anything,” response, I’m going to tell them what I really want. In fact, I think it’s something most parents of littles want more so than anything else.
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I want a little help. Or as much help as people are willing to give.
The fact of the matter is, my husband and I get absolutely no time to ourselves these days, and by that, I mean we don’t get to spend time as just a couple, nor do we get time to relax or pursue our own individual hobbies. My husband gets up at 4:45 daily, not because of the kids, but because he has a 1.5-hour or more commute and needs to get to work early so that he can, in turn, leave on time to help me with the kids at night. Once the kids are down, we typically spend our evenings taking care of household items or doing our own respective work—he often needs to log on after hours, while I do my writing assignments between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. since it’s my only time to get actual work done.
On weekends, our days are consumed with kid-centric activities and our seemingly never-ending list of home maintenance projects. We’ve gone on exactly one date over the past year (our anniversary) and we haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep since before our 10-month-old twins were born.
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I’m not complaining. This is what our life looks like right now, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But if you want to know what I really want for Hanukkah, it’s a helping hand. I need that in my life right now so much more than I need a new outfit or handbag which, incidentally, I probably wouldn’t be able to put to good use anyway since my daily routine is far more suited to cheap, spit-up-friendly clothing and a fully stocked diaper bag.
If you want to get me something I’ll really appreciate for Hanukkah this year, offer to babysit so that my husband and I can go out one night without worrying about leaving the kids. Volunteer to come entertain our children on a Saturday or Sunday so that we can get a little rest. Commit to showing up the next time we have a longer home maintenance project to tackle so that we can get it done in a day, instead of having it drag out for over a week because we have to stop every hour on the hour to tend to our kids.
READ: On Observing Hanukkah Miracles, Big and Small
Physical gifts are lovely, and it’s always the thought that counts. But if you want to get me something I’ll truly cherish, please give me the gift of your time. I know it’s not the same thing as tendering something hand-picked all wrapped up in a box, but trust me, right now, it’s the best gift you could possibly give me.