Santa Can't Deliver the Dream House Without an Address Confirmation

It’s winter. Real winter. Cold into the bone, boots into the snow, winter. My chin braced. My feet chomped and clomped behind the dog. Bored with the bleakness? Yes, but not only the white cresting over tractor dug trenches. The expanse ahead could not escape rolling over the flatness of the year behind. In the distance UPS trucks speed past to meet their address quotas for the day.


I had dialed my niece to beat back the silence that asked me to speak to myself.

“Hi, Doda Erin.” Her voice immediately bounced over the field. I gathered these bubbles of air to raise the lead filled year.


During too quickly counted sunlight on the morning of the longest night of the year, I remember two phrases of that conversation.


“Milk and cookies. You need to leave out milk and cookies,” my niece had expertly instructed.


Santa? For all the worry about crossing over or double crossing my brother’s focused intentions to only be Jewish and no longer half of two things, Santa was no longer a question. For all the distance and loss of family time crossing over an ocean, Santa was an answer. My brother had acknowledged his daughter didn’t care what she celebrated. This year, Santa was bringing a Barbie Dream House.


“She says she’s forgetting her Hebrew,” my sister-in-law had offered. “Because she’s so American.”


American? Once again, it’s the other half of being half of two things. It is the national lines that separate us. Is Santa keeping two lists for nations’ boundaries and stories. Does he at least keep two address lists? The farmhouse in America and the Barbie Dream House in Israel.


My niece had ended the phone call with her promise of calling again tomorrow. Across the field smoky watercolor stain seeped from the broken branches. These once reaching boughs were broken, scattered, pushed, and piled. Finally, they were burned. If they could speak, would they ask to stay instead of being scattered into the air? Still, the ashy billow mixes dissipated into the thin streak one could mistake for a jet trail.


Unsnapping leashes inside the house, I had wiped my nose. Irritation from cold. From smoke. From dust. I scrubbed the pawprints left on the new laminate kitchen floor. My arm pressed and released. Pushed. Rubbed raw. Each movement was the measured version of my father’s punching against the universe, so upset when made to live in someone else’s world. I ran the cloth under the newly selected shimmer of a faucet. I watched the water hover. So quickly the dirt settled deep into the intentional roughness of the floor. I had only wanted this floor. The only other option was leaving everything the same. Why had I made this choice to move forward? Why did I wonder if I regretted it meant permanent commitment?


For Christmas Eve, I had promised my niece I would bake cookies to leave for Santa. I would fill a glass tall with milk my father loves and I never drink. I would write so she knows, Santa knows, where to leave her dream house. All because it’s always easier to talk with her in the silence than myself. Then, I’ll go to bed, on a night a little shorter than tonight’s longest night, wondering when I’ll wake up on the other side of the other half of two choices. The farmhouse in America or the Barbie Dream House in Israel. Even Santa can't deliver the dream house without an address confirmation.

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