Dec 24, 2010

Obligatory Christmas Post No. 1

Last year, I blogged about being a Secular Christmas Dropout. Here's a chunk from that post:

I imagine if I lived in Israel, the feelings of Christmas would fade over time, and I probably wouldn't even long for the lazy days of mom's cookies and bulk gifts and cheesy, old Christmas ornaments. Did I mention the tree? My mom loves her tree -- it was her prized possession, always. Every year she struggled to get us to help her put it up, and begrudgingly we would always help her. Now? Mom doesn't have anyone to help her. She managed to get my little brother to help this year (with the help of his girlfriend). She sent me a photo of one of the ornaments, a very old one that she has put on the tree since the 1980s. It's a mirrored one, much like all of her early ones (the entire tree is white/silver with a few hints of color here and there), and her comment with it was "Did you know that one of the mirrors was a six pointed star....we must have know way back then that it would represent you :)." My mom, as always, has brilliant insight into these things.
I don't know if my mom read the post, and I'll have to ask her, but the ornament in the photo? I now have it in my possession! My mom sent it to me (among a bunch of other awesome gifts like a Pampered Chef bar pan, Mad Gab, some cute kitchen towels from my Grandma in Branson, MO, and another cute gift that I'll share once my mom sends me the corresponding picture).

Once again, she struggled to get the tree up, but she said it's up now and only a few ornaments broke this year. My mom's tree is beautiful in white and silver. It was always one of my favorite things about the holiday season. We'd sit around the floor in the living room sorting the tree branches by color coating on their ends, and then separate the branches (yes, it was fake) and then put the tree together. My hands always got itchy because whatever the fake tree was treated with just made my hands scratch. This year, my parents will be spending time with my older brother and his preggo (with twins!) wife, as well as my little brother Joe and his girlfriend, both who are home form South Carolina (where they're at school) for the holidays.

Do I wish I were there?

Of course I do. Would it be weird? Without a doubt. Would I deal with it? You betcha. Why? Because -- no matter who you are -- it's always important to remember and cherish where you came from. It makes who you are now all the more valuable, because it's a narrative that you must understand to grow as a person. (I'd post photos of my family, but, well, I don't know how my mom and brothers feel about the face time on my blog.)

So, to my readers celebrating Christmas, Merry Christmas to you. And to all my Yidden, Good Shabbos! And to all my other friends? Happy Winter Solstice and be well.


Batya said...

Chavi, are you saying that it's just a matter of "family" for you? That's like my post. It's Not Thanksgiving If It's Not At Aunt Pauline's...

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Batya ... exactly. Absolutely. That blog post was beautiful, and it reminds me of so many feelings of my own. All holidays were done at my parents house, with just us -- my mom, dad, and two brothers. We never trekked out for holidays (save a few I remember going to my Grandma's in the Ozarks). It was us, always us.

Rivki Silver said...

Remembering and cherishing where you come from is such an important point. Sometimes, in the rush to fit in, I feel like those of us who've come to observance can forget that from time to time. Thanks for the reminder. Lovely post.

Leah Elisheva said...

I really loved this post! It is really comforting to know that others are dealing with the same issues! Keeping connected with your family of origin is so important and it breaks my heart when I hear of people who've become estranged. My family's Xmas celebrations are quite secular but even so, I have struggled for a long time with how to navigate these events post-conversion. Complicating things is the fact that I grew up in an interfaith family with a non-practicing Jewish father and a semi-practicing Roman Catholic mother who absolutely adores the Xmas season and everything that comes along with it. We have had a rocky road but Baruch hashem everything went smoothly this year! I draw comfort from the fact that other converts are able to navigate this season.

Dipper said...

During my last few years in America I hated this time of year. Everyone wished me a Happy Hanukkah and I couldn't reciprocate with a, "Merry Christmas!" My family was Christian in name only. Our holidays were like Chaviva's: totally family oriented and lots of fun! But being Jewish meant that I had to look at the Christian holidays through the eyes of the Torah, which prohibits them in every way. Celebrating Winter Solstice is pagan so that's out too. Fortunately I was actually at home in America for only one very problematic year. I got through it somehow, but it wasn't easy. To all those still navigating, be strong! In the end they'll respect you for your unwavering principles. From far-away Israel, I'm still close to my family and wouldn't want it any other way!

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