Family Music

I remember.

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.

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Holiday Book Sale

Hey everyone. I am having a 99 cent sale on the kindle version of The Watchmage of Old New York. If you like my writing and are intrigued by what I can do with fiction, now is the perfect time to pick it up. Ebooks are the new stocking stuffer. Yes, I know that it doesn’t actually go in a stocking, but the gift of reading, no matter the format, is a gift that you never lose.

Also, I need to pay the rent 😛

If you’re looking for something a bit more personal. I am happy to sell custom signed paperbacks as well. Just shoot me a message on my contact page. I only have a few left before I need to reorder. I’ll also throw in one of the anthologies that my short stories are in (if I have enough).

Watchmage black

If you are a book reviewer and are looking for a historical fantasy during a time period that has rarely been touched, you can contact me for an ARC copy. I’m always looking for more reviews, as they are the best way to expand exposure and let Amazon know that you exist.

I’m done with my plug. Carry on and have a great day! Be brilliant!

doge in space card redux

War on Thanksgiving?

November 1st, my next door neighbor put up her Christmas decorations.

I love Christmas. It’s a great holiday, and even though I’m of a different religion, I embrace it, falling into the metaphorical melting pot that is the foundation of American culture. I say Merry Christmas. I watch Christmas movies like Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas (best Christmas movie evar!!!!) I write about Santa Claus and his New York roots. I celebrate with my Christian friends. I don’t get upset when people wish me “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Hannukah.” I understand that my people are a small population (even in New York), and I don’t expect people to include me in their reindeer games. It’s about the sentiment, not the accuracy.

November 1st, my next door neighbor put up her Christmas decorations.

What about Thanksgiving? Where are the “Happy Thanksgiving” signs and the cornucopias? Where are the turkeys drawn by spreading out your hand? Where’s the stuffing? Where’s the cranberry sauce. How did we lose an entire holiday?

And this isn’t just a minor holiday. Thanksgiving is one of the big ones. It’s turkey and family and football and listening to Alice’s Restaurant on the radio (the whole thing…Did I mention that I come from a family of hippies?). It’s also a holiday where I don’t have to sublimate my religion to celebrate it. It’s a national holiday, not a religious one.

I love Christmas decorations, but there is a time and place for everything. Thanksgiving comes first.

btw: said neighbor always wishes me “Merry Christmas.” She knows that I’m Jewish. I just smile and nod. I’m sure she means well.

doge in space card redux

Chanukah

menorah

This menorah has been in my family since before I was born. It was the one my father and mother lit, and now I keep that tradition alive.

I remember staring into the tiny flames, my head barely above the kitchen counter. I’m staring at them again, but from above.

And I wonder: who will light them when I am gone? Who will keep the tradition alive? Or does it end with me?

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And so this is Christmas…

Some of you might know that I am Jewish (I talk about it all the time), and I celebrate Chanukah (with a hard ‘ch’ like you’re clearing your throat).  What you may not know is that I, like many other Jews, celebrate Christmas.  We do this because we’re “encouraged” to by both society and by business.  Schools and jobs close for Christmas, but not Chanukah.  The only time that our family can get together is on Christmas.  We have to celebrate it by proxy.  So much for a “war on Christmas.”  It’s actually a war on every other winter holiday.

This year was especially awkward, since Chanukah fell so early.  My family had no get together this Christmas or Chanukah.  If you’re wondering why Chanukah moves around so much, it’s because the traditional Jewish calendar is lunar, not solar.  The Sun doesn’t vary its position in the sky very far in Israel.  It was much easier back then to track time by the Moon.

Penguins make it festive

Here’s an imaginary conversation with someone pissed off because I say “happy holidays”:

Me: Happy holidays
Them:  I’m Christian, blah blah blah Fox News blah blah blah War on Christmas blah blah blah Obamacare.

Me: Do you celebrate New Year’s?

Them: Of course

Me:  That’s two holidays.  Plural.  Happy holidays.

I do often celebrate Christmas though with a goyish family, or at least I try to.  I like the festive nature.  I like that people pretend to love each other, if only for a short while.  I like Christmas music.

During WWI, the warring sides actually had a truce during Christmas.  They say that you could hear the enemy singing Christmas carols from the other side of the trenches, and they joined together in song.  Then they went back to dropping mustard gas on each other.

During the American Revolution, Washington famously crossed the Delaware River late Christmas night for a surprise attack early morning on the 26th, the famous Battle of Trenton.  No blood on Christmas, plenty the day after.

Forgive me for being bitter, but last year’s Christmas was beautiful.  I was with Valerie and her family.  I was madly in love (still am), and enamored with my new family.  Less than a month later, Valerie was dead, and I have yet to recover.  I doubt I ever will.

The photo that I use as an avatar is the photo Val and I took for Val’s mom.  We put it in a nice frame.

The point is, wen I was younger, people often said “keep Christmas in your heart all year long,” but no one does.  We go right back to hating each other once the clock strikes midnight.

Merry Christmas.  Keep it in your heart all year long…in other words, don’t be a dick.