Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Festivus to all, and to all a good night...

I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a multicultural society. My friends were Jews and non-Jews, Asian, South American, Greek, and so on. You get the picture. A veritable United Nations. Growing up in such an environment allows you to be exposed to so many different and exciting things, whether it be foods, customs, holidays, etc. It was a wonderful experience. Of course, living in Israel has exposed me to many different kinds of Jews, but in some ways, it’s just not the same. I mean sure, the Persians, the Moroccans and the Iraqis each have their own customs, their own ways of celebrating the Jewish holidays, and sure, it’s interesting, but when it comes down to it, I mean, when it really comes down to it, what do I miss? Christmas.

Yep, I miss Christmas. I miss the lights dancing in the trees and bushes, seeing the Christmas trees through the living room windows (and you shouldn’t infer that I’m a peeping tom, I’m referring to those trees that can be seen from the street), I miss the music, I miss the festive feeling in the air. I suppose that some aspects would be similar to the feelings that we get here in the period leading up to holidays like Rosh Hashanah, but it’s not quite the same. Of course, I didn’t actually celebrate Christmas in the truest sense. I mean, it’s not like we had a Christmas tree or anything. I miss the feeling of Christmas. The excitement of Christmas. I miss going to the neighbors’ Christmas parties. I miss eggnog. I miss watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” I miss going out for Chinese food and a movie with all the other Jews (when one of my Israeli friends relocated to the US a few years ago, I explained the Jewish traditions vis a vis Christmas and he thought I was kidding. Later on, when I asked him what he’d be doing over the Christmas holiday, surprise, take-out Chinese food, and renting movies with friends, or perhaps some skiing, the other favorite Jewish pastime on Christmas. He even went so far as to admit that he hadn’t believed me, until he actually witnessed it with his own eyes.).

My fondest Christmas memories were created with my best friend and her family. For years I would go to her house in the days and weeks before the holiday, helping her family to decorate the tree, while lovely Christmassy music played in the background (care to remind me what the music was, my dear?). To this day, whenever I drink Chamomile tea, its taste comforts me, taking me back to those tree decorating days, when we’d all sit around the living room, drinking tea and admiring our work. There were even years when they would schedule the decorating so that it coincided with my trips home from university (thanks for that, guys!), or at least leaving it up after the holiday long enough for me to see it, if I hadn’t been able to make the decorating session.

Being the inquisitive lass that I was, I even went with my friend to Midnight Mass one year, just to see what it was like. Well, it was beautiful. A church full of happy people dressed in their holiday clothes, celebrating the birth of Jesus. I enjoyed the singing, the spirituality of the evening. I enjoyed watching (and participating) as everyone offered good wishes to those around them, as part of the service. And, for those of you who are worried, you needn’t be. You’ll be pleased to know that when the time came to take communion, I decided against it (visions of the church falling down around me while being repeatedly struck by lightning if I did so was the primary deciding factor).

Now here I am, living in Israel. The Holy Land. The land where it all began. Christmas is distant, and it just feels wrong. Needless to say, there’s no snow on the ground, only big dirty puddles. No Christmas lights so blinding that you’re not even sure if there are bushes underneath. No overdone Christmas/Nativity scenes. Call me crazy (go on, most of you do anyway!), but I miss it all (well, not all. I can certainly do without the “mall” music). A large chunk of the world is building up a feverish holiday frenzy, and here in Israel, we go about our daily business as if nothing is happening (same thing happens with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but that’s for another blog entry). To keep myself entertained, I periodically play a selection of Christmas songs on my computer, running the gamut from the original Band Aid tune to various Muppet Christmas ditties, and needless to say, a punchbowl full of eggnog certainly wouldn’t hurt.

In any event, us folks over here at something something wish all of our readers who choose to celebrate a Merry Christmas. And, given that Chanukah begins on Christmas day (how terribly convenient!), Happy Chanukah to all of our Chanukah-celebrating readers! Or perhaps we should just wish you all a Happy Festivus

20 comments:

as said...

Great post!
Want to come over and see our tree?That's my line with all the girls...

Liza said...

Tell me, AS, how big is your tree (not that size matters, of course!)? Can I turn on your Christmas lights? Will you show me your angel? Is that a candycane in your pocket? Do I get to sit on Santa's lap? ;-)

nrg said...

keep it clean people, keep it clean!

Dearest She, it was Handels Messiah, which is, oddly enough, an Easter piece that much of the western world has hijacked into a Christmas piece... and the Nutcracker usually follows the Messiah on my list of tree decorating music... Went to see it last night at the Norwegian Opera with Mom and mini-viking daughter. Was an enchanting evening!

I must say that since moving to Norway, I do miss participating in menorah lighting during Channukah...

We'll be buying the tree on thursday and decorating on Friday... I've got Handel fired up and ready to go and mom starts baking Christmas cookies this afternoon (the peanut butter ones with the hershey's kisses on top to start!). I love it when my parents come here for Christmas!!! :-).

Want to come over and help??? And your ornament always has a choice spot on the tree! :-).
Merry Festivus to She, He and families!

PS My cards are going out late this year...again...

Liza said...

Oooh, AS! Maybe NRG would like to hang an ornament on your tree...

Liza said...

And we miss having you at the candle lighting.

Would love to come help decorate - want peanutbutter cookies, please!

as said...

She, you can come and decorate my tree. Just handle my baubles with care...

Seth said...

online interfaith flirting?

lisoosh said...

Mmmmm. Eggnog.
Nothing like a borrowed holiday.
I took pictures of a couple of crazy lighted houses for my kids, I will e-mail them to you.

Liza said...

Thanks Lisoosh! If you could figure out a way to email some eggnog as well...

Liza said...

Sure, Seth! Just doing our bit towards peace on earth and interfaith relations... :-)

Furat said...

I was born in Jaffa Palestine Feb,1940.As my birth certificate stipulate in English ,Hebrew and Arabic .
And now you are living in Israel ,I may have a favor to ask you to do for me ,that is if you are close enough to Jaffa .Where about in Israel do you live ? since I am forbidden to visit my home town simply because I am of a Palestinian oregon ,if I give you the address where I was born and lived for 8 years a place I call home .Can you be kind enough to send me Photos of the house and the area I lived at .This would be not only a favor but a good christmas and new years gift ever given to me .Furat

Liza said...

Hi Furat,

Welcome to something something. I don't live close to Jaffa, but if you send me your email address and the address in Jaffa (using the email link on the main page of this blog), I will do what I can to send you the photos. It may take some time, but I will do my best.

I hope this helps.

Yael K said...

I'm missing Christmas too. We always had a tree. Well, I sort of do this year if you consider a palm tree thing hung with lemon-shaped lights to be one. Anyone dying to see the Grinch, I have it on DVD and can make copies --spread the cheer. And, shhhhh, I'm actually going to a xmas party hosted by a pair of good friends --one Jewish Israeli and his new wife a secular catholic. So there is a bit of christmas here but without kinda the christmas cheer.

nrg said...

Ahh... christmas in norway.... the mini vikings have a Nissefest (elf party) in Mishpacton today (I spelled that wrong, didn't I?) They are decked out in red and white and looking quite adorable. The ground is covered with snow, it's minus 5 Celsius and mom is baking as I write! I do love this season. A very homey feel to it all!

There was a house in Colorado Springs when I was living out west that piped what She defined as "mall music" out onto their yard for the whole neighborhood to 'enjoy'... it was scary!

Everything is a bit more subtle here! :-)

Roba said...

I completely relate to how you feel. Although I'm not Christian, there's something so merry about Christmas that the world turns cheerful..

christine said...

merry Christmas, compliments of the season etc etc from South London

The Miner said...

I wish you a Merry Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!! hope all your wishes come trueeeeeeee...!!!!

Datingmaster, Jerusalem said...

some nice thoughts but reember the christians persecuted us for 2000 years

Liza said...

datingmaster,

Perhaps, but they did give the world eggnog and a few other nifty inventions, so they can't all be bad. Besides, some of my best friends (as well as a fair amount of something something readers) are gentiles, so you are really preaching to the wrong choir with your comment.

Mili said...

Funny I should stumble upon this post just now, and in some way I do relate. This holiday season has really lived up to it's name, with participation for Eid al-Fitr, throwing Christmas parties, actual chrismtas at my house the 24th, christmas at a friends house the 25th, and a surprise Hanukkah on the 26th for my step father. So hectic, so festive, so rewarding. I've never cooked so much in so short a time span in my life! Now I'm spent. Regardless of one's beliefs, these holidays do weave themselves into the social and cultural fabric, whether we realize it or not.