Sunday, December 07, 2008

Changes for the Holidays

There's a strange phenomenon that occurs as you get older around the Holidays. The status quo of family getting together for Thanksgiving and Christmas doesn't stay as the status quo any longer. Over the past few years, these two Holidays vaguely resemble the Holidays that I remember as a child growing up. Instead of my parents, my grandmother, and my brothers gathered around a Thanksgiving table or in my parent's living room opening the slew of presents my grandmother usually brings, there's someone missing.

This past Thanksgiving, my older brother and his wife were in Massachusetts. My younger brother and his fiance were in attendance, but only after the pleading of my mother. Last Thanksgiving, I was down in St. Kitts with Jaclyn, and now Christmas is up for a giant overhaul this year.

You see, the past three years, my older brother and his wife have celebrated Christmas with her family, as they have experienced the losses of her father and brother over this same time, and it just seemed right for them to be with the remaining family. Not wanting to miss out on Christmas all together, they would put together a pseudo-Christmas a couple of days beforehand, have the rest of the family over, cook a dinner, open just their presents and give out all the presents they had bought.

That was once again their plan for this year. But now my younger brother has indicated that he and his fiance will be at her family's place in Dunkirk for most of Christmas day. That would leave a four person Christmas as my parent's house. Not quite the merriest of times.

However, this is to be expected. As a half-Jewish family, Christmas has been of slightly less significance than it would be for my brother's wives' families, who are Catholic. When push comes to shove, they've got the trump card...his name is Jesus.

But I think this is the case for all families. At some point, a transition must be made. Hell, my grandmother comes to my parent's house every year. At some point, a shift occurred from having it at her house, like my mother had done since she was a child. But now it's a bit more complicated, because there are three sons involved, instead of one daughter. And of course, there's my dad, who's Jewish, and wants no part of Christmas from a religious standpoint.

So, what can be done?

We're moving Christmas.

Yes, sorry, Jesus. I know you were born on December 25 and all (at least that's what I think is the case...I was raised Jewish), but that just doesn't quite work into our schedule. How about we squeeze you in on the 21st? You see, I don't want to give up my Saturday night, so let's shoot for a Sunday?

Obviously, my grandmother is having fits over this, but here's the reality of it. Christmas for my family has been about getting everyone together. We don't sing Christmas Carols. We don't say prayers or go to church. We don't even mention Jesus.

However, we do open presents at a feverish pace, climaxing with all the men collapsing on the couch with piles of wrapping paper strewn everywhere, dogs fighting over their new chewies, and my grandmother going on and on about how we're tough to buy for now, and we can return anything if we don't like it, as she's left the gift receipts in the boxes. Then we eat pigs in a blanket, watch basketball, and eventually gather for a dinner highlighted by a Honey Baked Ham. (Yes, ham...I told you, we're half Jewish)

So, if that's what we do, let's just do it on a different day, so that everyone can be a part of it.

And that's our plan. So, on December 21, while you're sitting at home watching the NFL on TV like it's any other Sunday, or en route to your own parents' house for the holidays, we'll be making a mess of my house (yeah, we're switching venues's closer for my brothers and I've got a real tree we just decorated on Friday), yelling at dogs, and eating two separate products made of meat from a pig. All the while, saying Merry Christmas.

Yeah, it'll be the wrong day, but for the first time in a couple years, with all my family there, it may just feel like the way I remembered it.

And then I'll light the menorah for the first night of Hannukah, send my grandma into a fit of anger, sparking an argument with my dad, and my mom will start crying.

Yep, sounds like Christmas.

No comments: