I was a child, later an adult. Every holiday we gathered at my aunt’s house, taking in the scent of all the delicious Gramma food in the kitchen: chicken or turkey, kugel, chopped stringbeans, matzoh ball soup, all a beautiful blend of tradition that made me remember the Old Country that I never knew.
My Old Country is the Bronx. That’s all I have. No shtetls, no pogroms, no Holocaust. I only heard of those from my Gramma, and thank goodness I never had to live through them.
And we had music.
Today my gramma turns 100. While that’s amazing and rightful deserves a party, my gramma isn’t the woman that I remember. Ever since my mother died a few years ago, she’s gone downhill, like she lost the will to live. And yet her body refuses to let her. She has been in constant pain for years from diabetic neuropathy. Over the last year, a series of blood infections have done a serious number on her brain. My gramma was also a kind person, very involved in local charities and organizations. Now she does none. And she’s no longer kind. My aunt gives her nurses weekly tips because she is such a handful.
We’re having a party, and I am very worried about this. My gramma lives in a Bronx apartment. Small and awkward. And the entire family is coming in. I expect about 30 people and decades of family feuds.
Earlier this week I visited my father. He is moving to Las Vegas next month, and needs a lot of help packing. I mean, a lot of help. There is a ton of junk.
Much of the stuff is my mother’s and that’s the hardest to get rid of. My mom loved doing crafts, and there is a lot of her old knitting, needlepoint, and jewelry materials. My mom’s belongings must be the hardest for my dad to get rid of.
The hardest for me are the old photographs.
This generation will never deal with this. Their photographs are online. They don’t take up physical space. You don’t have to decide what lives and what dies. I found so many pictures that made me misty. Pics of my mom, picks of a much younger me with friends that I don’t get to see anymore, pics of me and my brother before the world got its hooks into us.
I found a picture of me and Valerie and it broke my heart. Of course I brought it home with me, because I obviously like to torture myself.
Shoeboxes and albums of memories. Pictures in frame. I can’t bear to part with them. It’s like abandoning memories. It’s turning your back on your life.
Maybe I’m just a hoarder in the making. Maybe I’m a sentimental fool.
Maybe, but I don’t care. I won’t leave them behind.
Oy vey! I went to Valerie’s mom’s place for Christian Christmas (as opposed to Jewish Christmas). So much food! So many presents! I’m in shock.
This is only the second time that I have celebrated Christmas with real live Christians. I have to admit, it is a fun holiday. The traditions, the egg nogg . . . ohhhh the egg nogg. Yesterday I was craving egg nogg so bad that I went out in the snow storm to get some.
Egg Nogg — what makes family bearable
I was shocked at the huge number of presents that I got. Stocking stuffers are a concept that doesn’t exist in Hannukah. They’re awesome, because you have more things to open up, and the surprise of unwrapping is the best part of any present.
This is my haul:
- A box of Spree
- 2 bags of Skittles
- a Jets scarf
- a Jets blanket (already draped over my couch)
- The Muppets Take Manhattan DVD (My woman knows me so well)
- Kermit’s Swamp Years DVD (more muppets!)
- Jay and Silent Bob action figures
I am such a man-child.
So what I have to say is: If Christians want to convert people from other religions, just expose us to Christmas . . . I ate ham! A big baked ham, and while I never kept kosher as a kid, we never had baked ham for dinner either. A couple of egg noggs and some “A Christmas Story” and you can convert the Ayotolla.
Have I mentioned that my girlfriend has a novel out? It’s called “The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen,” and it is hilarious. The greatest gay romantic stoner comedy ever (but it’s funny for straight people too). You can buy it here for only 99 cents!
I haven’t updated in a while, because I have been so stunned by the massacre in Sandy Hook (about an hour’s drive from here) that I have been afraid that if I posted, it would just turn into a massive butt ripping of the NRA and their culture of stonewalling gun regulation laws while mass shootings increase (Aurora happened only 6 months ago).
I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about Jewish Christmas (no, not Hannukah).
My family usually could not get together for Hannukah. Everyone had to work or go to school, and to tell the truth, Hannukah isn’t that important a holiday. But we always got together for Christmas.
We did what the goyim did, exchanged our Hannukah presents, got drunk, you know, the important stuff. It’s a cliche, but we ordered Chinese food, and it was always extra delicious. In fact, I am thinking of ordering Chinese food right now.
It always seemed strange that the Christians effectively got to tell us when and where we could celebrate our holiday, but it’s a small price to pay considering that 70 years ago we were almost exterminated. I should be grateful that I’m not getting Zyklon-B in my stocking.
That’s in bad taste. I apologize in advance.
But anyway, I will now bless you with my Top Five Favorite Things About Jewish Christmas
- 5. Chinese Food — Like I mentioned above, chinese food is extra delicious on Christmas. But it’s also the company. Usually, when I eat chinese, I am sitting in my underwear and watching the Jets lose. It’s nice to sit around the table with my family and pass around the dishes, family style. As long as I get an egg roll.
- 4. Booze — My parents were never fond of me drinking(my mom didn’t drink, and my dad does rarely), but on holidays, I get a pass. My aunt always had a couple of bottles of wine at her house, and I got to be drunk in front of Gramma.
- 3. Obscure Christmas Music — popular Christmas music is boring, but there are some great Christmas songs out there. Like this one.
and this one:
- 2. The End of Christmas Music — By the time it’s Christmas, I’m done. No more Noels, no more Silent Nights.
and the number 1 reason . . .
- 1. My Family — Sometimes I can’t stand them, but now that I am losing them, I miss and appreciate them more. I wish I had the chance to spend 20 more Jewish Christmases with my Mom. Merry Jewish Christmas in Heaven, Mom. I miss you so much.
Merry Christmas, my goyish friends!!!