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Jr. Tales: Door Prizes

Rachel Stein

Maybe she could finally get the matching necklace-and-earring set all the girls were wearing! At least that, if she couldn’t have a big birthday bash

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

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T emima’s pout looked like an upside-down U, stretching almost all the way to the ground. But no one seemed to notice because of the hustle and bustle that filled the house. Tatty was pouring oil and preparing wicks for the menorah, Mommy was frying scrumptious smelling latkes in the kitchen, and Shevi and Avrami were belting out Chanukah tunes and whirling in circles faster than spinning dreidels. So Temima stomped off to her room and sank into her soft bed, ready to have a good long sulk.

Why did she have to have a birthday the first night of Chanukah? Did anyone even remember, did anyone care? A single tear rolled down her cheek.

A while back, Temima had asked Mommy about having a birthday party. She had just come home from her friend Leah’s party, glowing with excitement.

“They had a storyteller and games and then we made jewelry,” Temima said breathlessly. “It was so much fun! Then we made our own pizzas and ice cream sundaes! Please, Mommy, please, can we do that, too?”

Temima’s gazed hopefully up at Mommy, blue eyes glittering.

“It does sound really special,” Mommy agreed. “But we don’t do that in our family, zeeskeit.” Temima’s smile faded as she listened. “We can have a special birthday dinner, if you want. But we save parties for big events, like when you become bas mitzvah.”

Temima nodded, but she didn’t really understand. What was little about turning ten? After all, she’d be in the double digits for most of her life. Waving good-bye to single numbers seemed like a pretty important step to her.

“Is there something special you want for your birthday?” Tatty asked a few days ago.

Temima brightened. Maybe she could finally get the matching necklace-and-earring set all the girls were wearing! At least that, if she couldn’t have a big birthday bash. But when she told Tatty about it, a shadow clouded his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Temima’le,” he explained, “but that kind of jewelry is too expensive. Even though you’re worth it! Maybe think about something else that you want, something smaller, okay?”

Temima blinked back tears at the memory. It just wasn’t fair. No birthday party, no jewelry — so what was the point of turning ten anyway?

“Temima, time for Chanukah licht!” Shevi’s and Avrami’s voices drifted up the stairs.

Maybe I shouldn’t come, Temima thought. No one really cares about me anyway. The answer to everything I wanted for my birthday was no, and now everyone seems to have forgotten all about it!

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