We don’t do any of that Elf on the Shelf nonsense. Not because I hate all things fun (which I do), or because I am lazy (which I am), but because I am Jewish. I admittedly grew up as one of those “lucky” kids, because my Dad is Catholic, so I got Hanukkah presents (eight days of socks!) and Christmas presents. Nonethless, I’m still not really into the holidays. I’m not a total Grinch. I love cookies, and I have a proper appreciation of A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, the John Denver with the Muppets Christmas Album and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” But that’s about as far as it goes. The holidays aren’t really my thing.
When Alex asked if I’d be willing to host the Pittsburgh blogger holiday cookie swap he was arranging, I said “sure!” …mostly because I knew that I would be the beneficiary of additional leftover cookies. But in the day or so before the event, I realized I was an odd selection for host, because literally the only holiday decorations in my house are the Hanukkah gel window stickies I bought my kid at Target to bribe her to act like a somewhat civilized human being.
The cookie swap was this weekend, and it went swimmingly. With all the cookies and joy and fun and sparkling wine, no one even mentioned my lack of decor. Success!
This year is going to be a weird holiday season for us. Due to the aforementioned Catholic dad, I grew up every year having a Christmas tree at his house. During my college and law school years, I did not have any Christmas tree, but I didn’t have anything else either, so I didn’t even notice. When Mr. Beez and I got serious, I expected him to have a Christmas tree. He had no such intention, because although he personally is not Jewish, “we” are Jewish, our (later to come) family would be Jewish, and we have a Jewish house. So no Christmas tree.
We spend Christmas with his parents. They have a tree, and holly decorations and a ham. Santa visits Baby Beez at her Grandma and Poppy’s house. She has a stocking there. But Christmas, really, was his mom’s thing. She did the decorating, the shopping, and a lot of the cooking. She passed away in October. This Christmas is going to be a big change. It’s too much for Baby Beez to lose her Grandma and Santa in one year. I did the shopping (of course, nowhere near as extravagant as when Grandma was in charge). We’re changing up the menu. Instead of ham, we’ll make prime rib for dinner (which is my Dad’s tradition). And on Christmas evening, we’ll hit up the movies and get some Chinese food, as a nod to Jewish tradition.
This afternoon, I got my act together on the one Hanukkah tradition from my childhood that really “makes” the holidays for me. The Hanukkah box. Here’s the idea: when you have Christmas, you have a Christmas tree to put presents under. When you have Hanukkah, you have to put the presents somewhere, so we wrap a box in paper and put them there. It’s the Hanukkah box. Past years, I’ve used the largest cardboard box I can find sitting around. This year, I decided that I’m sick of trying to line the inside of a stupid box with wrapping paper (an obnoxious task), so I wanted to buy a Rubbermaid type box, and wrap it once and use it year after year. We’ll just put it in the garage in the off season. Baby Beez and I also picked up a bunch of overpriced bows at Target to add a little extra flair (seriously, I spent about $40 on bows today. What is wrong with me?)
Tonight, our Hanukkah box went live. It’s early enough that we can briefly admire it before the holiday starts on Tuesday evening, but it’s not sitting around long enough that its temptation becomes unbearable for the small person. Also, I’m happy to say that in contrast to past years’ too-small boxes, where gifts were spilling over all over the place, this Rubbermaid behemoth was just right.