Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day, 2009

Alone again, naturally.
That’s not as bad as it sounds, not now, even on this traditional family-centered day.
It’s not just that I’m used to it.
It’s that I live in the retail world, where “Christmas” is interminable and often insufferable.

Much of me just wants to veg the day away, especially since I need to be at work by 6 a.m. tomorrow.
My Christmas dinner is a prepared turkey feast from Whole Foods.
My desert of pumpkin cheesecake by way of the B&N café.
I even have one of those cheesy video’s of a Yule log to pop on the TV.
Yeah, I know. It sounds pathetic.
But in truth, what’s a lot worse is one of those pity holiday invites where you sit around amid other folk’s family and watch them open gifts. I’ve been there, trust me.
If I rally later this afternoon, I’ll hit the movies for a traditional Jewish Christmas day.
If not, I’ll curl up beside my “fire” with a book.

My life has always been filled with Christmas confusion.

As a child of the 1950s, growing in a secular Jewish family on Long Island, we got the season all wrong. In an effort to give us everything, my parents ending up leaving us wanting. Like many children, Jewish mainly in the cultural sense, I coveted Christmas, the trappings of which permeate our culture.

We lit the Hanukah candles, did the fried food and such, but “Santa” brought our presents on Christmas morning. The thing is, we weren’t allowed to have a Christmas tree. We didn’t have a fireplace, but I once actually hung one of my little white stretch socks from my bedpost. I don’t even think my parents noticed.

It’s no surprise that as soon as I was married—to an Italian—I got a tree. With no money for ornaments, it was decorated with Christmas cards. But the lights were the old fashioned kind that looked like candles. And the ornaments I later collected mimicked those trees of the olden-day movies of my youth.

When I split from my husband, I also chucked the artificial tree for the real thing.(Although, he took the Lionel trains with him.) Among my warmest memories are going with my son to a small farm in Farmingdale, N.J., to chooce our tree.

I enjoyed many a Christmas Day as my children grew. (Yes, we continued to light the candles & eat the latkes.) When they were tiny, I put the tree in the playpen. I loved wrapping the gifts, which I often did with home decorated newspaper. For me, it was all so fresh.

My friend Jean taught me how to bake cookies, and I had a collection of tins. I’m probably one of the few that included my grandma’s home-made mandelbread, though. I spent alot of time covered in flour.

My parents would arrive early, laden down with shopping bags full of gifts, and we all chilled out for the entire day. Our meal was another turkey feast with all the trimmings. Yes, there was tension and some sour years, but I choose not to go there. Not important.

When the kids grew and no longer came home for the holidays, it died a natural death. There are no grandchildren (as yet?) and each lives 4,000 miles away in opposite directions. So I’m on my own.

Which brings me back to this day, Christmas 2009, now almost half gone. By the time most of you read this, your Christmas will be but a memory. Hope it was warm and wonderful.

And that’s the way the Christmas cookie crumbles.

1 comment:

Brian J Boyd said...

Great post, and I'm right there with you. I'll be heading to Star-yuks for some reading with a side of coffee in just a few minutes. I love this day, because everyone is zigging and that leaves the zag wide open.