Tag Archives: celebrate

I Celebrate It All

I call myself a “cashew” for fun. I’m a Catholic-Jew I tell people. My whole life, I have been fortunate enough to be part of a multi-faith family. My mom is Jewish and my dad is Catholic. What does that mean exactly? The easiest way to explain it is to tell you that I celebrate everything. We have Christmas and Hannukah; Easter and Passover. We aren’t a religious family by any means, neither of my parents were particularly dedicated to their religions. I didn’t grow up going to church or temple nor did I have a communion or bat mitzvah (lost out big time on those!), but we always celebrated and shared the holidays together. In the end, being with family is what sticks out the most.

Growing up, I felt like the only Jewish kid in town. Not in a bad way, but no one knew what Hannukah was and in 1987 we didn’t get 15 days off during the year for holidays like Yom Kippur or Passover like kids do now. In my world, everyone went to CCD and celebrated Christmas. It never really bothered me, as I got to basically participate in what everyone else did. Plus, I got to play my Jew card. I didn’t have to go to school on certain obscure holidays and as I got older, I could take off work or leave early for the same reason. However, if I didn’t celebrate Christmas, I think I might have felt differently if I was ONLY Jewish; somewhat sad that I wasn’t part of holidays that were so commercially promoted and in your face.

When I moved to a new town, I noticed a lot of people were Jewish. There were more Jewish people here than I think I have known in my entire life. In fact, I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful group of friends and they are ALL Jewish. I am the only one decorating a Christmas tree and hiding eggs on Easter. I’m suddenly the religious minority in my adult life, like I was during childhood.

This time of year, I notice it even more, as my friends are getting ready to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (it’s 5776 in case you’re wondering). They’re cooking and making plans to visit family and it’s a whole big event. It’s nothing like when I grew up in my small mountain town and it’s kind of nice to see how people embrace these holidays. In my family, if we could make it happen with everyone’s crazy schedules, we did. We’d eat brisket and challah and dip some apples in honey (just to make my mom happy). And if it didn’t work out, we’d skip it and maybe have a “Jewish meal” some other time during the year.

Even though I am surrounded by a lot more Jewishness during this time in my life, I don’t feel any more Jewish, or Catholic, than I used to. I’m married to a man who is Catholic, who doesn’t go to church and isn’t religious himself. He eats matzoh balls and chicken soup and I eat ham and lasagna when the holidays roll around. We have a daughter who is obsessed with Christmas and likes spinning a dreidel and my hope is that is how she lives her life from here on out: spinning dreidels, decorating trees, hunting for eggs, lighting candles on the menorah and eating delicious random holiday food. And most importantly, being with family. Because that’s the way life should be and we are fortunate enough to be able to do it all. L’Chaim. Amen.

In Support of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a variety of reasons. I love the time of year in which it falls and the traditions my family and I have built around the occasion. Plus, being both Jewish and Catholic, it’s nice to just celebrate without having to bring religion into the mix.

I feel bad for Thanksgiving though because it’s like the red-headed stepchild of Halloween and Christmas. As soon as Halloween is over, I jump at the thought that we’ll soon be cooking turkey, making stuffing and spending time with family and friends.  Sadly, as soon as Halloween is over for most, especially retailers, we are thrown right into Christmas. Can’t we give Thanksgiving a chance?

I know Christmas is the holiday almost everyone (who celebrates that is) gets most excited about. Advertisers throw out the big guns to make those end-of-year profits, kids get excited for presents and let’s be honest, who can compete with Santa Claus? But over the last few years, Christmas has been making an early appearance on TV and in stores, leaving poor Thanksgiving in the dust.

Even when Thanksgiving does get some props, it’s mostly because of Black Friday sales and the start of the holiday shopping season. And these days, deals are being launched before you even put down your drumstick!

I don’t need to be swayed, but I hope that I can convince some of you to enjoy one holiday at a time. Give Thanksgiving a chance – don’t let it be trampled on by Christmas trees and tinsel. Be thankful for the occasion that reminds us to give thanks for all we have and shows us that holiday is truly about family and friends, not Black Friday deals and doorbusters.

Where Did the ‘Happy’ in Happy Birthday Go?

I love my birthday. It’s this weekend. Sunday actually, in case you want to send me birthday wishes, gifts, flowers, money!

I have always loved my birthday. It’s a reason to celebrate me; see family and friends; have a good time. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love it. Yet almost everyone I know is so reluctant to celebrate their own birthdays, some want to forget them altogether. What a downer.

Yes, I know we are getting up there in age. Hell, we have been for some time. There’s no stopping it. This trend didn’t start when entered the “Dirty Thirty Club,” people just don’t seem to like bringing attention the day they were born, no matter what their age.

All I know is I love birthdays, and not just my own. I love celebrating other people. How wonderful is it to have a day dedicated all to yourself, where people can shower you with love and affection just because you are here, because you are you?

Maybe I have a chip in my body that makes me look at my birthday and the birthdays of those around me in a different light. If that’s the case, I’m glad I do, because it’s rare to find that person that likes, let alone loves their birthday.

If you are one of those people hating on your birthday, for whatever reason, take a step back and try not to hate it so much for a hot minute. Think about how great and wonderful and fun it can be. And if nothing else, be thankful you have another day, another week, another year, to celebrate the wonderfulness that is you! Just think of it as a birthday gift to me!