Christmas In A Half-Jewish House

The holidays are always just a little strange in my house.

I am Jewish, my husband is not.

We are pretty reasonable in terms of how we celebrate and decorate the house at this time of year. After more than twenty years of togetherness and compromise, we have the holiday thing down to an inexact, yet fair science. I have my mother’s old candelabra menorah to use during Hanukkah, and we just bought the Christmas tree today. Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of ornaments that represent the places we’ve been, the craft shows we’ve attended and the people we know. As far as food goes, the husband has a great liking for all cuisine Jewish, from deli to potato latkes, and while I’m not a big fan of ham and pork, I can roast a mean piece of pig and know that he will enjoy it. His enjoyment of tuna casseroles and Jello molds, however, I will not touch.

A few holiday ornaments and decorations date from our first years together. In spite of careful packing year after year, they are now a bit worn and chipped, some with wire hooks re-glued. These early plain ornaments are a contrast to the later purchases: slicker, one-of-a-kind items made by local artists or picked up on vacations. Each year at this time, I reach under the bed and pull out the containers with the lights, tinsel and tissue-wrapped ornaments, lay them out on the couch and figure out what goes where on the tree to create balance and a fine sense of design.

This year, it’s been a little different. With mom in the hospital (she will be out sometime next week, and heading home), it hasn’t felt much like a holiday so far. I keep changing the radio stations when holiday music comes on. I haven’t done much shopping for gifts, and I have not started on my cards or baking. I admit it’s difficult to find holiday spirit when the time is spent doing the everyday things, plus caring for a loved one’s everyday things. I would not trade what I’ve done for her, but through all this, I’ve learned a lesson about how to prepare for my own aging.

The light is on at the end of the tunnel, and if I’m not mistaken, the colors appear distinctly festive.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Christmas In A Half-Jewish House

  1. I spent last Christmas with my father coming to the end of his life (he died Dec 27). It was in large part my decision to let him go, so I was far from festive. But I kept my mind on all the happy Christmases I had with him as a kid, and the whole family made sure the new batch of children had the same experiences. It was worth it.

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