As I’ve mentioned, Ken and I are in some ways polar opposites. West Coast/East Coast. Polish-Mexican/Japanese-Filipino. Family of academics/family of entrepreneurs. And, Jewish/Catholic.
This time of year can be stressful or fun for a multi-religious family, but we make the most of it, which leads to twice the celebration, tradition, (and gifts!). We will celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the Natoris, and then head to Oregon on the 26th to be with my family. We will eat traditional Christmas Dinner with Ken’s parents and a lot of extended family members, then have Christmas Day brunch with the Natori parents and my sister, Courtney, in a more intimate setting, and then have a HUGE Christmas Day Dinner with the Natoris and several dozen family members and their friends. My in-laws might think it is a casual get-together, but everyone gets decked out in their finest outifits, heels, and holiday best. Fashion show at the Natoris on the 25th!
Christmas Eve, although still fancy, is usually a smaller get-together with a dinner followed by midnight mass. While all of the Catholics go to mass, this Jew goes to bed!
My favorite Christmas tradition with the Natoris is Christmas Day Brunch. We are all in pajamas and loungewear (good thing it is chic Natori loungewear!), exchange presents in front of the fireplace, and eat a scrumptious home cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs and fish roe. I know, extravagant, but what better reason to splurge on something extraordinary and exquisite than family and Holidays? In our previous Christmases, we did not have a walking-talking-will-not-sit-down-monkey, so this year, we might be chasing him around more than eating. (Last year, we had a family trip including the Natori parents and the Proskurowski parents to the Philippines, and the year before that, Cruzzie was just a newborn). Out of next weekend’s big holiday celebrations, I am most excited for the six of us (Natori parents, me/Ken/Cruzzie, and my sister) spending the morning together and being low key and comfortable.
Hannukah with my family is much less festive and traditional. That said, it is just as important. We rarely do anything “Hannukah-esque,” meaning we rarely light the menorah candles, play dreidel, or say the prayers, but that is the type of Jews my family members are. Judaism and the holidays are more about food and family than the actual meaning or rituals of the holiday. I am sure we will eat latkes with sour cream and applesauce and blintzes at some point but there is nothing set in stone and everything is more up in the air. This year, our Hannukah week together will include the three of us, my brother/wife/3 kids/dog, and my youngest sister introducing her boyfriend to everyone. Holy party! Holy noise! Holy commotion! Holy fun!
Different families, traditions, and activities, but equally fabulous, wonderful, and great. I am excited for next weekend with the Natoris and after that, the week with my family out west. It will be great to be all together and celebrate family and love, which is more special and precious than any gift or meaning of both Christmas and Hannukah. The holidays are just an excuse to all be together.
So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, anything else, or any combination of the above, have a great Holiday!
— AYN, aka The Josie Girl