Judy Gold Dishes on the Holidays
Not for another 70,000 years will the start of Hanukkah begin on the same day as Thanksgiving, but I have to say, the term "Thanksgivukkah" gets on my nervikkuhs. People say Happy Thanksgivukkah to me like they made it up. Like I'm hearing it for the first time. It's reminds me of the annoying guy at the New Year's Eve party who says to everyone at 11:55p.m., "See you next year!!" ANNOYING. And I can't tell you how many times people have said to me, "You're Jewish? Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?"
I'm American. Of course I celebrate Thanksgiving. Do you ask that to Christians? NO! Jews celebrate just like everyone else. But this year will be a little different. In the afternoon, we will eat turkey and go around the table and say something we are thankful for. Then in the evening we will light the menorah and then go around the table and say something we feel guilty about. Plus we're making enough food so the leftovers last for eight days.
For the Jews, every holiday is about the food anyway, so it's kind of interesting that they fall on the same day. That just means there's more fucking food. I am a bit concerned about the combination, though. I'm not sure how the tryptophan is going to work with the plethora of fried food.
I live on the Upper West Side, and my mother grew up two blocks away on W. 94th Street. Every day after school she went and sat in the boy's Hebrew school class. Girls didn't attend Hebrew school at the time. She went VOLUNTARILY. She loved it. So I grew up observing the Jewish holidays and these traditions are passed on through my mother.
Growing up, we had one menorah, a very plain and simple one. There were three kids -- my brother, my sister and me. Each night one of the kids would light the candles. Since there are eight days of Hanukkah one kid would get gypped and would only get to light them twice. I was such a baby about it. I would pout the years I only got two nights. Shocking, huh? We would sing songs, eat latkes, and then get into a fight. (Always my fault).
So for my sons, we light two menorahs, play dreidel -- which is good because I want my kids to gamble as much as possible -- have potato latkes, the whole thing. And since I'm a lesbian, this year my partner and I are actually going to my ex's to celebrate with the kids, since lesbians have no boundaries...
Hanukkah isn't really a major holiday anyway; it got all Christianed up with the presents. I'm sure Judah Maccabee wasn't sitting there handing out gifts. For my very non-materialistic family, Hanukkah wasn't really about the presents. If we did get them, it wasn't like "Oh, a new bike!" It was more like, "Oh, a MAD magazine. Thanks."
My ex enjoys the gift giving. She is now a big executive, and can spend money on large gifts. So our kids are living a tale of two Mommies -- it's like the de Blasio vs. Bloomberg Hanukkah. And we have eight days, don't forget that. This is great for the procrastinating Jews who are always saying, "There are four more days! I didn't forget!!"
Winter in the city is fun; whenever there's a snowstorm, we love to go out and walk in the snow and throw snowballs. The kids do love ice skating, but I couldn't hate it more. I'm already 6'2". I don't need to be 6'9" and trying to balance on some thin blades while freezing my butt off. I used to bring the kids sledding, to this huge hill in Riverside Park. They are older now, so they go without me, which is really depressing, but probably better because I was always so frightened they would get hurt. (Jewish)
For Christmas -- if I'm not working, we hang out with my close friends who have an enormous Italian family. They live at the Jersey Shore. There is food and more food. Lots of fish. Christmas Eve is magical, and those trees smell great.
My partner Elysa's birthday is on New Year's Eve, which means I don't have to acknowledge the stupidest fucking holiday in the world. We just celebrate her birthday.
But what I really hate is Black Friday. You can't have one damned day off, where everything is shut down? Nothing is sacred anymore. I hear about these people camping in front of Best Buy for over a week and I wonder, "How badly do you really need to save $20 on a fucking iPad?" I want to get away from my family, too, but I don't want to be mauled down in a Wal-Mart. Actually I would never step foot in a Wal-Mart -- even if they were giving out free iPads.