Although I am Jewish, my extended family — family by blood, family by marriage, and family by choice — is very interfaith.
And I’m going to be honest, I find myself missing Christmas more than I imagined I was going to.
Pre-pandemic, along with the traditional Chinese food, my family spent Christmas visiting. When I was a small child, we would go over to my grandfather’s sister’s house, where my great-aunt Cissy and great-uncle Julius had what always seemed to be hugest Christmas parties, although they were modest enough. That, not Chanike, was when I got holiday presents from some of the extended family, who themselves had intermarried. Sometimes, whoever was there of my great-uncle’s band would play a little bit. And sometimes us kids would get to play, gently, with the marimbas.
Although the Christmas parties stopped eventually, the visiting did not. We visited long-time family friends variously every year. Other family friends had a Boxing Day party with more people crammed into a tiny Valley Village apartment than you’d ever think possible. Mirth and merriment and togetherness.
In 2019, I figured out how to take my hometime for Christmas, buy a spot at the truck stop to park at, so that we were able to go up and visit my now-mother-in-law and spouse’s siblings for Christmas. Then I went back on the road and spouse stayed and flew home a bit later. (And then the pandemic started, but that’s another blog post altogether.) Spouse has a big family, and spending Christmas up there was a joy, even though it came with its own share of stressors and interpersonal conflict happening as well, as is bound to happen with family. One day I’d love to be able to do that again.
And I miss that now more than I did at Chanike.
I hope that, as we have another year of pandemic holidays, you’re able to find and forge new traditions to take the place of the ones the pandemic has taken from us. The holidays are about togetherness, even when that togetherness and when expressing the same care for one another means instead of visiting, staying home, like we’re doing this year.
Tomorrow morning, I’m going to make pancakes, and then we’re going to build a fire in the fireplace and watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Tomorrow evening, we’re going to get Chinese food from the local takeout that we like.
So happy Christmas, along with all the joy and blessings of the season, to everyone who celebrates.