Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Seasons Greetings & Then Some

Today's guest post Friday topic is "The Holidays". I have no idea why, but I'm sure my neighbor who just put fake reindeer antlers on her Toyota Camry does. Marinka's very funny post about holiday icebreakers is over at Jessica's today.

My "How to Make Gingerbread Men" is at Marinka's. (And since I wrote this last December, if you've seen it before, that must mean you've been reading my blog for a year. Which means I now owe you a cheese log and a referral to a good therapist, so please send me an e-mail with your details.)

And Jessica's hilariously thoughtful take on Christmas v. Hanukkah is right here. Oy.


By Jessica Bern

I was at a friend's house the other day talking about how much Hanukkah blows in comparison to Christmas, especially now that I have a kid. So in an attempt to make me feel better, my friend said to me:

FRIEND: Well, then, don't just light the candles and toss her a gift. Get a book about the story of Hanukkah, then sit down and read it with her. I'm sure if she knew more about it, it would mean more to her.

Now, I'm going to have to disagree here. Jewish holidays are tough. Why? Because if you think about it, the story behind every one of them is incredibly depressing. Every story, it's the same: "Well, there were the Jews and then one day these people came along and, of course, they wanted nothing more than to get rid of said Jews, so they started a war, bang, bang, bang, the Jews were in big trouble, things didn't look good, yada, yada, yada, and the next thing you know, the Jews won, and well, happy holiday." Try sitting around a fire and telling that to your five year-old.

When I reminded my friend of this, all she could say to me was:

FRIEND: I hadn't thought about it that way. You're right, you are f*&#ed.

I grew up in the only Jewish family on our entire block. I was SURROUNDED by Christmas. I always envied the other kids sitting at home with their families, ripping open tons of presents, the smell of some kind of pork dish wafting through the air, everyone singing Christmas carols, carols that everyone in the entire world knew the lyrics to. To this day, I've never walked into a store and heard them playing songs like, "Oh, Chanukah, Oh Chanukah". I used to wish, just once, that I could watch as a salesgirl tapped her foot to the wonderful rhythms of my personal Hanukkah favorite, "Dreidel, Dreidel" or catch her unlocking a dressing room door all while mouthing the lyrics to "Maoz Tur", both the slow version and the hip-hop one.

It's no surprise that I married a non-Jew. Got fourteen Christmases out of it. But now that I'm divorced, it would be too weird. Plus, I have no dsire to ever again attempt to wrap up the lights, a task which never accomplished anything except to remind me and my parents that perhaps sending me to a "regular" school wasn't really in my best interest. Then again, I could do like my neighbor who had the bright idea of not only buying a fake tree, but decorating it and then never taking it down, EVER. It's amazing. Every year, for the past few years, from January through November, the guy's considered a nut job, but then starting Thanksgiving, "he's not crazy, he's just getting an early start".

Personally, I think he's on to something.


Erin said...

So Wendi, I'm a faithful blog lurker, meaning I read, but don't usually comment. I remember the gingerbread man's reminds me of the poop ornament I once made when my mom and I made homemade ornaments with that bakeable dough! I want my cheese log! (I already have a therapist.) But seriously thanks for all the laughs and the memories of Austin...I still miss it despite living only a couple hours away in big D!

Vodka Mom said...

First, I'm dizzy from all this running to and fro. Let me catch my breath!

Vodka Mom said...

oh sweet jesus that was funny. Especially the part about you being fucked. Except there was no foreplay and no cigarette. Damn.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

LOL! My dad once kept our tree up till mid-February, which is a no-no. Your neighbor is definitely a freak. But I like freaks, so I'd get along with him...

Hmm...maybe it's not a Christmas pine, but a weed tree. Getting high isn't seasonal is it? That'd explain why his tree stays up.

Can you celebrate a little of both with some sort of funky mixture of the two?

Marinka said...

We always had a Christmas tree, because I was born in Heathen Russia and we celebrated "New Years". I don't know why I just put it in quotes, as though it's code for devil worship or something.

But you're right--all Jewish holidays are so depressing. Maybe try to jazz it up at the end with "and that's why we're the chosen!"?

Cat said...

I thank god I'm not Jewish. That's sounding rather sacreligious right about now. You could always go with the whole Holiday Armadillo thing from Friends. I would love to see pictures of that.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

Or, how about celebrating Festivus?!

"Festivus for the rest of us!!"

And it even comes with a Festivus Pole!

Mama Monkey said...

You can do worse than be considered a nut job for 11 months out of the year. I sometimes suspect I merit that label 365 days a year. ;-)

Ann's Rants said...

Forget it. Just take her out for chinese and a movie and be done with it.

rightonmom said...

Can I get an oy vay?! In the words of Jon Stewart "What more can they do to [the Jews] us?" I second Ann's Rants comment.
Merry Chrismahannukawanzaa!

Charmaine said...

I was a BIG FAN of Jewish Holidays.

I went to the State University of New York, Binghampton. We got ALL Jewish Holidays, plus the Christians ones, off.

Woo hoo, it was like hitting the mother load.

Charmaine said...

When I was young I worked for the State of Israel. I'd traveled to Tel Aviv and come very close to moving to a Kibbutz.

I can still see my boss, Roy Margel. One day I had terrible menstrual cramps...(I never thought I'd miss those). He was so sensitive to my pain he advised he felt "sympathetic cramps" like some husbands have sympathetic contractions?

Every time I had cramps he would hunch over and say, Owww, then take the rest of the day off.

I'm just sayin...hee hee. Was that politically incorrect?

the mama bird diaries said...

Girl, get yourself a little tree. And just remember, Passover is just around the corner. That's a cool one.

Lnearth said...

Oh yay! I was hoping to read the Gingerbread one again. Love it!

knittergran said...

I once listened to stories told by a man on NPR. He was Jewish and he said the main theme of Jewish holidays was great food. He said something like: They tried to kill us. They did not succeed. So let's eat!

alperen said...


Kate Tabor said...

We too are caught between the tree and the candles. Husband Jewish, I'm a lapsed Catholic - so much guilt! So the Jewish holidays are mostly about war and persecution, but the food is great! So here's to your favorite brisket recipe! And NOTHING beats a latke (fried potatoes - seriously God's own food - and nothing brings those Irish Catholics together with those Russian Jews better than a fried potato).

Julie said...

My kids love Hanukkah and look forward to it every year. Eight days of treats, home-made potato latkes, jelly donuts and playing with fire!

We sing and dance with our kids after lighting candles, have grandparents over (who hand out green bills) and plan fun family outings.

Any holiday will only be as enjoyable as the parents make it.