Forgive me if I don’t always welcome the arrival of Christmas in the spirit appropriate to the season.
It’s not because I’m a Red Sea Pedestrian. Sure, Christmas is not my holiday... but what gives my neighbors and friends joy gives me joy as well. And besides, it is just as well that we Jews do not celebrate Christmas: If we did, the observant ones among us would find ways to inject an unbelievably complex layer of laws, regulations, and customs into the proceedings.
No, it’s simply that Santa has not been especially nice to us lately. Christmas has brought us a few unpleasant lumps of coal in our figurative stockings.
Christmas Day 2011 was the day my dad - Eli, hizzownself - suffered a massive stroke. He lived a little over two years after that, but never again was he really hiszzownself, having been changed instantaneously from a vigorous, athletic man into a hemiplegic invalid.
And it was exactly one year ago today - Christmas Eve, 2015 - that Dee suffered the fall that simultaneously shattered her wrist, broke her hip, and left lasting scars on her self-confidence.
No, not the door to a stateroom on a cruise ship, alas.
It was rough going for a while. A Christmas Day surgery to put bones together and implant the necessary plates, screws, pins, and spikes, followed by months of recovery. It made the transition into 2016 challenging, with yet more challenges to come as the new year wore on.
Dee is doing much better now, and this evening we enjoyed our traditional first night of Chanukah dinner - takeout Chinese food and Dee’s incredible potato latkes, a bizarre combination with which we memorialize my mother, gone now for twenty-eight years. Yes, it was Christmas Eve. But we were celebrating with dear friends, and so I did not fear the arrival of the Man in the Red Suit with his sometimes perverse gifts.
Happy Chanukah to our fellow Red Sea Pedestrians... and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it! May the holidays bring blessings of health and peace to you and all you love.
(And for the rest of us, there’s always Festivus.)