It’s Christmas time, which always leaves me feeling a bit…confused.
The children are all home so the house is in complete disarray. We have four dogs running around–my two dogs (one Rottie mix and my senior Cavalier King Charles) and my oldest daughter’s senior teacup Chihuahua, and her newly acquired eight month old cattle dog Beagle mix (read hyper) puppy.
It’s noisy and great and overwhelming all at once.
I found myself wondering if this is how Stephen King found inspiration for The Shining. You know, by being trapped like an animal in a house filled with dogs and children in a cold environment for too long…he finally cracked and boom! the idea was born.
Anyway, I digress.
I wanted to write about my confusion with the holidays.
As a child we celebrated Christmas and had a fake tree, set up in the living room. Underneath was a little village of sparkly miniature cardboard houses which we surrounded with rubber animals, and plastic people. On Christmas morning our stockings contained some candy and a grapefruit–special treats as we couldn’t afford them the rest of the year.
My sisters and I would receive a few toys (gender oriented, like dolls), books and then the hope stuff would be opened. We received cookbooks, cookie cutters, crock pots, silver-wear–all the items necessary to start our future lives as wives with. We started getting these gifts as very young girls. Like, age six or so.
Because every six year old exclaims Yay! upon opening a cookbook present.
Immediately after the presents were opened and breakfast of grapefruit eaten, the tree was taken down. The town was put away, carpet vacuumed and then raked into straight lines–the room was almost sterile once again.
When we were older, my mother gave up on the bigger tree altogether and just pulled out this little two foot tall tree, with the lights built in, already decorated, adorned with tinsel. It was stored in a garbage bag. She could pull it out, place on a side table, and then just put it away in a snap, once Christmas was declared officially over–around 10 am.
As though Christmas never happened.
We didn’t celebrate Christmas for any religious reasons. The birth of Christ was never discussed. Santa yes–Jesus no.
When I married my husband, a Jewish man, the Christmas traditions slid away.
We celebrate Chanukkah, but since my two children from Africa were raised until a later age in a Christian orphanage (I say Christian loosely as it is clear that my daughter’s understanding of the Bible is limited) and there was a lot of juju (black magic) included with it. She is still a Christian. My son is going to Hebrew school. My oldest daughter, raised Jewish, professes no affinity to any faith. My autistic son identifies himself as a Jew.
As a result, on Christmas morning, my oldest daughter and I bring out some small gifts for the kids.
I feel some sort of…loss? When I hear certain Christmas carols. But I also identify more strongly with the Jewish faith.
This year was even more so, as so many of my friends had just experienced great personal loss, just as we had.
To combat all of this…well, I danced more. I tried to perform more, before the kids got home. I organized an outing with my comedy friends for tomorrow night. I tried to reach out to those I know that are hurting inside.
Smiles are contagious.
Pass them around.
I hope all of you are having a great holiday season. I mean that.
This crazy family with crazy canines is.
Peace (on Earth) people