I don’t usually write poetry. I’m a prose guy at heart. But this one has been bouncing around my head for a while. In light of the bomb threats to Jewish daycare centers and the desecration of graveyards, it had to come out.
The first tattoo I ever saw,
Was my aunt’s, a pretty songbird.
On her leg.
But first the one I remember
Was late september
And I was four.
On Rosh Hashanna,
On my friend’s father’s lap
Trying not to nap,
I looked to the side.
An old man, or old to me
White beard, yarmulke on head.
And he read
From the prayer book
His white shirt sleeve
And I crept
Closer to see
Six, maybe five
And I tried to ignore
To look away
I didn’t understand
But I knew
I knew I knew I knew
That it was something
And I should never speak of it
Every other Saturday is D&D day. I love the campaign I’m in. We’ve been playing together for 20 years, in several different campaigns. The DM is a great storyteller. The PCs are interesting and complex. The plot is phenomenal to the point where I’m jealous.
Something interesting came up in out-of-character conversation:
Hey everyone. I want to wish all my fellow tribespeople a happy Rosh Hashanah. Shannah Tovah!
BTW: Shannah Tovah is short for L’Shannah Tovah Tikatevu. The translation is “may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.” Shannah Tovah just means “for a good year.” I hope I’m getting my Hebrew right (I only know a few words and sentences) or else I’ll look pretty dumb.
Enjoy all the deliciousness.
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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.
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.
I promised myself that I would avoid politcal and religious rants here, and yet here I am. It’s because of what happened to me at Shop-Rite today. As I am collecting my bags, the cashier said to me “Merry Christmas.”
Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but today it did. There was something in the tone of his voice; something that implied that Christmas was the only holiday that happens. So what set me off?
Maybe it is because we are in the middle of Hannukah (no correct spelling, because the word comes from a different alphabet (an Aleph-Bet!!! all the jews get it!)
Maybe it is because I am obviously Jewish (I had Maneshevitz chicken stock and egg noodles, and he rang them up no more than 30 seconds prior, not to mention that I look Jewish.)
Maybe it’s because we live in the county with the HIGHEST POPULATION DENSITY OF JEWS IN THE COUNTRY (Rockland County, NY) and he still acted like Hannukah didn’t exist.
So what did I do? Nothing. But in my head, this is how the conversation went:
Cashier: Have a merry christmas
Me: And you have a happy hannukah
Cashier: But I’m not Jewish
Me: Oh, I’m sorry. I thought that we were playing the “presume to know the religion of someone and then condescend to them like a douchebag” game.
Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. This isn’t Montana. 31% of the population in Rockland is Jewish, is it too hard to say “Happy Holidays?”
And since when did “E Pluribus Unum” mean “In God we trust” (god, of course, being Jesus.) It means “From Many, One.” We come from many cultures, and these cultures form together (Like Voltron, or a Megazord) to become one. It does not mean “You come from many cultures, and then we eat them up and force you to celebrate our holiday through saturation and social shaming.”
And don’t even get me started on Jewish stereotypes in the media . . . (I’ll save that one for another time, maybe tomorrow) But for now, try to think of a Jewish tv character that is not a stereotype.