18 November 2009

Why The Day Of Atonement Made Me Love Christmas

When I was young and my parents were still married (to each other), my family belonged to a church which focused more on the Old Testament of the Bible than the New Testament.  As a result, we celebrated really obscure holidays like The Day of Atonement (no eating for 24 hours...loved that one) and The Days of Unleavened Bread (right...no bread for a week...loved that too).  We did not, however, celebrate the likes of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, or birthdays.  All were labeled pagan (by who, I don't know).
I know...it's starting to get frightening. 

The exception?  Thanksgiving!!!!  And thank God for that because Thanksgiving with my family was a FEAST.  An absolute feast.  There was turkey, turkey soup, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, scalloped potatoes, acorn squash, butternut squash, corn, green beans, corn pudding, baked yams with maple syrup, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, cranberry chutney, fruit salad, italian salad, lasagne, ziti, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pecan pie, apple pie, cherry pie, coffee cake, candied orange peels, candied lemon peels, rum balls, peanut butter sesame balls, ginger bread men, spiced cider, egg nog, grape juice, coffee, and wine.  Made from scratch (except the juice, cider, and nog of course).

So while most people start dreading the exhaustion, stress, and consumer mania of the holiday season right about now, I start daydreaming about those happy memories from my childhood...

...staying home from school with mom to help cook and bake and taste and scrape the bowl and lick the beaters...all the while singing, humming, and generally just being happy to creating such a feast that everyone will love.

Since Thanksgiving and Christmas have sort of bled together into the general "Holiday Season", my enthusiasm for Thanksgiving moves right on over to Christmas as well.  Everyone knows I'm broke...I mean everyone.  If I haven't borrowed money from you, then I probably mooched off of you at some point and you already know I'm not going to go shopping for a gift for you.  It's going to be either second-hand or something handmade by me (or someone else) and it's going to be simple, personal, useful, and meaningful.  So no stress there.

The only family living near enough to visit are my mom, step-dad, brother and fiancee, and my mother-in-law and boyfriend.  If we all got together in one room, it might be a little awkward with a chance of disagreement (opposing value systems) but thankfully, I think we're all wise enough to avoid that situation.  It's the Italian Jewish Thanksgiving and then the Irish German Christmas.  But it's not so much about the exact holiday day for me, as it is about the energy of the season.  Baking goodies, making handmade gifts, being cozy at the end of the day with soft blankets and socks, a good movie, and hot cup of tea. 

And I still have not given up on that crazy thing they call "The Holiday Spirit".  I see no reason to.  It's a key ingredient in my love of the season and I make a point to look for it.  If I don't find it, I make it.

Maybe I'm different because I haven't been poisoned with Christmas-priority-warp from a young age.  Who knows?  But I will confess one irrelevant thing.  I really don't like Santa Claus.  He creeps me out, ever more increasingly every year.  Maybe that's because I never believed he was real.  And I guess I do kinda have a moral objection to mass deception, especially in regard to children.  My own mother never trusted her mother again after she found out Santa Claus was a fraud.  For real.  Never trusted her.  But anyway...

Getting back on track, I really do love the holidays.  So many have mixed feelings on the subject...so many get so stressed.

Remember the poor guy that got TRAMPLED by a ferocious mob of crazed shoppers in a Wal-Mart over a big screen tv last year?

It really is just a choice to arrange the puzzle pieces you've been given to suit you.  Or to arrange them according to popular opinion.  It doesn't have to be hard.  Anyone have any good holiday stories?  I'd love to hear.


Char said...

growing up - i loved christmas and the waking up early for presents. i was always so excited that i could hardly sleep....until the christmas that i unwrapped all my presents to peek and then rewrapped them. i was so upset and disappointed christmas morning - the sneaking spoiled the surprise and taught me that christmas really to me is the joy of surprise and love, not the presents. a hard lesson.

now, we only give gifts to the children - after all, the holiday is more about family and togetherness and love rather than the gifts. plus no one can afford to give what they would really like to give. i know that i can't.

julochka said...

reading this actually makes me look forward more to christmas. i think i often get stressed out by the present rat-race and the panic at the end, thinking that i have to have just one more...not this year, i say! it's going to be all about the food.

and i'm totally with you on santa claus. i never really liked him. if you think about it, a fat, hairy stranger who sneaks into your house in the night in a funny suit and eats your milk and cookies isn't a pleasant thought. and i always worried about the fact that our chimney went straight into the furnace, so he was just gonna get stuck in there.

i'm glad we're past that now in our family. :-)

i'm really looking forward to thanksgiving tho' and agree that it's the kickoff of the holiday season. we're having a big thanksgiving this year (on saturday, not on actual thanksgiving) and i can't wait!

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

I love all the Christmas memories I have...big family, decorating the tree, snow outside...everything. I often want to capture that time and moment and bring it back to today's time. Money is tight everywhere so I'm thinking getting back to the basics...the fun of decorating Xmas cookies together, making ornaments etc, is going to be the theme of the holidays for us. GOod old family time!

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