Welcome to Beyond the Blue Domes, my personal blog. In earlier posts, I shared memories about growing up in Iran during the Shah's rule, fleeing the country at age thirty, raising a family in the United States, and facing the newness and challenges of American life. Lately I'm posting my thoughts on stories or news that have touched me. My theme is exploring social realities and the intersections within cultures, and preserving history. Thanks for stopping by.
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Divorced At Christmas... Whose Year Is It, Anyway?
Vicki Abelson is a cool person. I know her from a writers group that she has created. Here is a piece she has submitted to Huffington Post. The piece is about celebrating Christmas as a Jew. I love her style – snarky and witty.
Creator and host of 'Vicki Abelson's Women Who Write'
As an almost-divorced (don't get me started) Jewess with shared custody, the yearly Christian celebration is giving me a taste for the hunger games. Please, just kill me now.
I know it's not my holiday, but Christmas belongs to everyone... except my Uncle Si.
As a kid, I was all about my heritage. When asked by a Macy's Santa what I wanted for Christmas, I snarkily... although it wasn't called that then... replied, "Nothing. I'm a Chanukah girl." I was five. And stoopid. Sure the eight nights of candles had each brought a gift --but really? What could possibly be wrong with a few extra presents from a jolly old fat man?
By the time I was nine that shit stopped anyway when my parents took the divorce highway to holiday hell. My mother did her best, but after a couple of nights, it was a chocolate coin or two. I began to covet the ever-growing number of wrapped packages under my best friend, Roseanne's, family tree. And they were Jewish!
When I left New York for college in the desert town of Tucson (where a girl in my humanities class, upon hearing of my ethnicity, asked to feel my scalp -- looking for... horns. I swear!) I took to celebrating with the goyim. Then I married one. Where was the guilt? Where was my shame? I left it with my youth somewhere in Nebraska.
There are many Jews to whom Christmas is a day to catch a double feature and eat Asian -- that's way more evolved than what we actually say. For me, an overcompensating underachiever, it became my mission to be the best non-Christian Christmas celebrator around. I bought presents for just about everyone I knew... played songs of the season for weeks... decorated, cooked, baked and entertained other Christmas-loving-Jews and non-Jews, alike. I hid the activity from my Hebrew-teacher-father, holding my breath more than once when an unremembered photo crossed his path.
Husband number two (don't judge me, it's not the Christian thing to do -- especially now) was Jewish. I somehow managed to coerce him into joining me as a semi-secret Santa lover. Each year our home became Christmas central for our friends, and even our Jewish mothers.
Once we had kids, it felt morally irresponsible to have a tree and demand that our son take Bar Mitzvah lessons. Even though I was a "cultural" rather than a religious Jew, the rite of passage to manhood was a must for the son of this Hebrew teacher's daughter. So, I hid the ornaments, lights and tinsel, but continued to cook jumbo shrimp, sauce with sausage, and bake Christmas cookies for our holiday feast. I used blue and white sprinkles at least, damn it!
In more recent years, new traditions were added. On the first night of Christmas it was staunchly agreed... that we'd watch Elf and Love Actually. (I hope you sang that line. If you add a touch of seasonal good cheer, it almost works. Humor me.)
Then we split up. Mother's Day, Father's Day and birthdays were no-brainers, though a bit painful and awkward. We agreed to alternate the rest. Fourth of July -- whoever didn't have the kids spent the day with friends. The Jewish holidays and Thanksgiving have been a bit trickier. We did a couple of years all together. That proved increasingly difficult. And this year's double whammy Thanksgivukkah -- are you kidding me, or what?
I haven't hosted Christmas in a while. As a result, the holiday has lost much of its sparkle. I feel less like a non-Christian celebrator and more like that little girl spectator of other people's holiday.
And whose year is this, anyways?
We decided to split the pain... I mean holiday, in two. I get the kids on Christmas Eve. It'll be a touch of the old -- Love Actually -- and the new -- chili and latkes.
On Christmas Day, I'm gonna heed Uncle Si -- go to the movies and eat Chinese with the rest of the Jews.