I’m so glad not to have to be authentically grateful in today’s post. I’m all out of authenticity.
How about we discuss the miracle of Christmas for the Jewish child instead? Growing up, Christmas was around me but not in my home or community. We lived a short walk from bagels and rugelach, and absenteeism at our public elementary school was rampant on Jewish holidays. Ever the curious child, I never thought to ask these questions.
- Is Santa Claus real?
- Should Santa really be eating cookies at every house he goes to? Isn’t he worried about hypertension or metabolic syndrome?
- Why do I never wake up when the reindeer land on my roof?
- Can I put the star/angel/baby Jesus on top of the Christmas tree?
- May we go dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh, over hills we go laughing all the way? (Ha ha ha.)
Questions Jewish adults with cancer never ask:
- Is this my last Christmas?
Okay, that’s the only question I can think of. Why would I ask this? I’m Jewish! I might ask whether it’s my last Hanukkah, but even that would be odd because Hanukkah is not the religious holiday Christmas is. Rather, I’d ask is this my last Yom Kippur, i.e., will I have another chance to atone for my many and varied sins against others and God? Or perhaps, is this my last Rosh HaShanah, since it doesn’t seem right dipping apples in honey at any other time, and I love apples in honey? What about, is this my last Passover? Alternatively, is this piece of matzah the last I’ll ever eat, and if so, could I have egg matzah or even chocolate-covered matzah rather than that plain cardboard stuff that is a little too reminiscent of the Jews’ 40 years in the desert.
Jewish or not, I’ll admit that on the second night of Hanukkah, I wondered whether this would be my last Christmas. That night, J. gave me a beautiful dog ornament–yes, it was one of those Christmas tree adornments–she had scored during the post-Christmas sales last year. (How’s that for the ultimate in anti-procrastination? J. started shopping for the holiday season just as last holiday season was ending. No wonder I feel I can never keep up with her.) When she gave me the gift, she told me she was sure I’d be around for another year to receive it. Wow, that’s faith for you.
Normally, I don’t let my mind go to this place of lasts. It’s much too sad and scary. I choose to focus on firsts instead. Today, for example, I learned how to adjust the storm door so it doesn’t slam shut. So much to learn, so little time. Or maybe not.
So on the third night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me (wait for it) Minion pyjamas! Thankfully, this gift did not invoke a similar existential crisis as Night #2’s. I merely had to reconcile my love of children’s toys and movies and, if I could, clothes with my 52-year-old self. I’m already over it. Here’s looking forward to Night #4.