A Very Jewish Christmas

This is a reblog of a piece I posted on TBBReality two years ago.

 

So I’m sure some of you have seen my Christmas pics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For those of you who don’t know me well, you’re probably wondering why the girl who was posting pics from her sons Bar Mitzvah six months ago is now posting pictures of a Christmas tree. Well, my husband is a Jewish New Yorker, as are his parents, who now live in Miami. My Mom and her family are Jews. Obviously I am, as are my children and my sister and her family. So why Christmas? Well, we celebrate it for someone who wasn’t Jewish and doesn’t attend anymore. That person, is my father. My dad passed away almost eleven years ago. He went into the hospital December 10, 2002 and didn’t leave there until a few days into 2003.

Let me give you a little back story here. Christmas was our thing, my dad and I. Every year we went, just us, to get the tree. We both had silly santa hats with our names on them, that my Papa Alex (also a jew!) bought for us when I was seven. Every Christmas Eve, we wore those hats while opening presents. We did the Eve in our house because my dad was Italian and that’s how his family always did it. Every year we ate deli, lots of corned beef and Pastrami and exchanged gifts. As “Head Elf” I would find a present, give it to him, he would read the tag and I would deliver it. I did it as a child, I did it as a rotten teenager, and I did it twice preggo, and always with my hat. For those of you who know me, you know I have a big head. I have no clue how that hat fit me all those years and still fits me to this day. It’s like the sisterhood of the traveling hat. Unbeknownst to me, the last Christmas we would all spend together was 2001, and I was seven months pregnant with Ethan. Now I don’t recall much, every Eve was similar, but there are two things that stick out in my mind. One was that he was laughing at how many tollhouse cookies I consumed in one sitting. The other was that he was looking down at this hand rubbing it, like it was hurting him. I remember feeling a little sense of doom right then. It just bothered me. An inkling of what was to come perhaps. It has stuck with me all these years, I can picture it clearly right now.

The next year, like I said, my dad entered the hospital and my mom was not up to having Christmas in her home. She was insistent, however, that we have it still and we all agreed. My dad was not conscious at that point, and he was the type who would’ve told us to get off our asses, cut the crap and just do it. Until that time, I had planned not to have a tree, we were raising our children Jewish. I figured we would just do Christmas at my parents’ house. By this time, we were all so spent from spending every second at the hospital, that we really needed this. I decided to host the holiday. My mom went out and bought a little fake tree, because by the time we decided to do it there were no trees left.

So began, our new tradition. The following year Darren, the kids and I went out and bought a tree. My mom passed over all the ornaments to me and we bought some of our own too. We had the whole family over and continued on, as my father would have wanted. Everything is basically the same, we still get deli, and it’s still a bunch of Jews sitting around celebrating. The adults all draw names now though and everyone gets something for the kids. The kids get for everyone, which is hysterical, as the presents prove to be very interesting. My father in law got a GIANT alarm clock from Ethan this year. I’m still cracking up about it.

So yes, things are different, but still very much the same. I have passed on the job of head elf to my kids. I now serve as “Santa”. I gave Max my original hat, and I glittered his name on the other side. I took my dad’s hat, put my name on it, the other side still reading Michael. It’s bittersweet for me every year but I adore sharing this same silliness with my kids. For us, Christmas doesn’t mean anything religious, but I respect those for whom it does. For us it’s about family getting together and having fun. Oh and lots of laughing, always tons of laughing in this house.

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