I have no real love for christmas. My (Now ex) wife and kids are still all about it, so the day started with being woken up at six am. I finally got out of bed around seven, and came out to the living room where they were all gathered around to open presents. Everybody enjoyed all they got, and that was wonderful. Regardless the reason for the day, it is great when you see a seven year old open up a package with sweatpants, and be just as excited as when he opens up a large kit of Legos.
For me, the irony of the event hit when I opened up the things that my wife and kids bought me. It was apparently a, “Buy Jewy stuff for the Jew,” type of Christmas, a jogging suit, a T-shirt, even boxer shorts. All of the things were well thought out, and couldn’t have been more awesome! It felt very respectful.
For lunch, we went to a friends house and made Chinese food. We sat at the table–four jews, and my wife and kids (four goyim)–and ate/conversed together. One of our friends asked for us to go around the table and remember our favorite christmas experiences to each other. Let me clarify something here: she is jewish, but although she doesn’t do christmas she is still excited by it and loves that others do celebrate it. Everybody had a story to share. I was reminded of a conversation in the movie City Slickers, in which they ask each other what was their best day.
My most memorable christmas (I grew up celebrating christmas, in case you didn’t know) was both the best and worst christmas in my life. Twenty years ago, my grandfather of blessed memory was in his last days. He was in Hospice care, in the bedroom of my grandparent’s house. Christmas eve was the night that we always celebrated, as per the Danish tradition, and we all sat in the dining room, and then in the living room during presents, trying not to be sad that grandpa couldn’t join us. I’m not sure if we were conscious of it or not, but we were all basically trying to convince ourselves that everything was normal. Clearly, it was anything but. Two weeks later, my grandfather passed away. He was the closest thing to a father figure that I ever had growing up, and although he was already an aged fifty-something with many ailments that effected his day to day life and ability to interact with all of us, he had such a huge impact on my life. I am thankful to G-d for every minute that I was able to have with him. I miss him every day. This was my best christmas because it was the last that my grandfather was alive for, and it was my worst christmas for the same reason.
I realized last year that this experience was the first thing that caused me to dislike christmas. It isn’t fair to those I love who still enjoy the holiday and time of year, but I’m not sure if anything can be done for it.
I do love the feeling that I used to get for Christmas when I was a kid. I loved the family occasion, the meal together, the conversation, the joy. It is the same feeling that I now get out of the jewish holidays which happen much more frequently. Even shabbat, happening every week and seeming a bit minor to goyim is just like this. We sit at the table, have a special meal, sing blessings, talk about our week and our dreams. It is like all the good parts of christmas without all the bad parts. If any jews are reading this and have never fully experienced shabbat, do yourself a gigantic favor and do so. Go in with an open heart, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. If you are unsure of where to start, comment here and I will give suggestions (or maybe I’ll make that the subject of a future post).
After lunch at Miriam’s, we all planned to go see The Hobbit at four in the afternoon. I had read the movie time the day before, but as it turned out they change their schedule every day. The next show was at 7:10, which was no longer matinee, so I went in to talk to a manager just to see if we would be able to buy tickets for that show at matinee prices since we had planned our day around a showtime that no longer existed. He apologized for the mix up and gave me six free passes so that we could all come back and see the show. It was great! We went home for a few hours, and returned to see the show–which was awesome, by the way.
I’m glad that christmas is over for another year, mostly so that traffic can get back to normal and there won’t be christmas music everywhere and at all times. All in all, despite my general dislike for christmas both as a jew trying to keep torah as well as possible and given my personal history with the day, it was a very good day. In fact, I am thankful to G-d for this christmas day that we had. I was able to reconcile a few things, and actually spent a very yiddishe time on a goyishe day.
I hope that you all had a wonderful day, regardless your traditions or hang-ups. I think that we can all do well to remember that life is too short to be full of bitter feelings, even if they are only for select things.