July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Chanukah: The Scotch Tape Miracle

The day in the stores had been a battle. She couldn’t find the right slippers for Rebecca. The board game Michael wanted was sold out in three toy stores before she found it in the fourth. The baseball cap Yonie wanted was only available in a medium. But, in the end, she found everything she wanted. Yehudit emerged victorious in the Chanukah present marathon.

She searched for her car for twenty minutes in the mall parking lot. Hadn’t she left it at Area E12? E13? No, it was at F12. By the time she climbed into her minivan she was ready to kill. Yehudit had two hours before everyone arrived at her house, and she hadn’t even peeled the potatoes for the latkes yet.

The kids were all busy with friends when she got home, so Yehudit had an entire hour to prepare. She had been using the same latke recipe for so many years that they practically made themselves. The oil sizzled as she threw on the potato, egg, matzah meal and onion mixture onto the frying pans. She ran two pans at the same time for maximum efficiency. She had made the Chanukah cookies with the kids the day before—sugar cookies in the shapes of dreidels, chanukiot, Torahs, and Maccabees (the Torah cookie cutter was good for almost every holiday), so that was one less thing to worry about.

If Yehudit timed it just right, she would have enough time for a shower after she wrapped the presents and before the guests arrived for candle lighting. She really didn’t want to go into the first night of Chanukah smelling like a giant latke.

As she went to wrap the gifts with the special Chanukah wrapping paper she had purchased (alternating blue and white dreidels and chanukiot on a shiny silver background), Yehudit realized she couldn’t find the Scotch tape. It wasn’t in the utility drawer, with all the magic markers, scissors and store coupons. It wasn’t with Rebecca’s art supplies. It was not under the couch in the family room, where lost objects went to die.Where could the tape be? She turned the house upside down in frustration.

“Kids, does anyone know where the Scotch tape is?”

No answer.

“Rebecca, where’s the Scotch tape?”

“Don’t know, Mom,” rose up from the basement.

“Yonie? The tape?”

“Haven’t the slightest clue, Mom,” emanated from the family room.

“Michael, where’s the tape?”

“Try the garage, Mom,” descended from somewhere upstairs.

“Hmmm, the garage. I hadn’t thought of that. Good one, Michael,” Yehudit called upstairs.

“Thanks, Mom.”

The garage was a nether zone where Yehudit rarely ventured. No car had been parked there for many years. Whereas the rest of the house was carefully organized—as much as a house can be organized with three active children milling about—the garage was the domain of Yehudit’s husband, Dan, and Dan was not a model of organization. It was a space filled with old bicycles, monkey wrenches, and discarded toys. The recycling bins and old garbage cans (lids not included) were in the far left corner. The folded-up sukkah and an old defunct lawn mower were on the right. It would be quite a challenge to find one roll of tape among the debris.

The obvious spot would have been among the old art supplies (dried-up paint brushes, multi-colored pipe cleaners, half-used bottles of Elmer’s glue). No such luck. After ten minutes of searching, Yehudit found the Scotch tape sitting on top of a twelve pack of paper towel rolls. She breathed a sigh of relief.

But when Yehudit scooped up the tape, she was in for an unpleasant surprise. For although she was expecting a full roll, the dispenser had almost nothing left. It was hard to tell exactly, but to Yehudit it looked like there might be only one piece remaining. The guests would be arriving soon, and there was no time to go to the stationery store.

She tried to use the tape sparingly. A small piece here, a tiny sample there, but there was no way she could complete her wrapping with this paltry amount of adhesive. Still, Yehudit persevered. She finished Rebecca’s slippers and moved on to Michael’s game. She covered Yonie’s hat and went on to Dan’s back massager. All the while, Yehudit kept pulling small pieces of tape from the roll, and the roll kept on giving. She wrapped all the small knickknacks that she had purchased for the four grandparents in the festive Chanukah paper. The tape ran out at the end of the last present.

All eight presents, and one small roll of tape. It was nothing short of, well, a miracle. Yehudit chuckled to herself.

Was this really a miracle? Yehudit doubted that the Almighty would intervene in her adhesive tape crisis, but it would be nice to think that there was Someone “up there” looking out for her, even in the small problems in her life. Perhaps this was what it meant in the bracha, the blessing, one makes on the Chanukah candles: sheh-asa nisim la-avoteinu, bayamim hahem, bazman hazeh—He who creates miracles for our fathers, in the olden days, and today. Maybe the modern-day miracles are the small things, or even the things we take for granted every day.

Yehudit put the presents back in the closet and rushed upstairs to take a shower before the grandparents arrived. Who knows, maybe the night would have more minor miracles in store. Maybe every latke would be perfect, and everyone would be happy with their presents, and everyone would sing the Chanukah songs together in unison, with no bickering. Stranger things have happened.

By Larry Stiefel

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