It's the most wonderful time of the year! No, really! Last night, on the way to visit my shrink, I passed by genuine carolers, in the midst of a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. I careened off into such a hard-core holiday tizzy that I almost skipped my appointment in favor of singing along.
But then I came to my senses and recalled that unless I give the Señor Shrinky Dink 24 hours' notice, I have to pay for the session anyway, so off I skittered.
Once there, we discussed the pitfalls of being part of an interfestive relationship. The first sip of eggnog sends me into a monthlong state of giddiness (which, after this shitty year, is very welcome indeed). Blinking lights and pine needles have the exact opposite effect on my Special Naked Friend. Instead of howling along with my A John Waters Christmas CD, he purses his lips and waits for it to be over. While I'm busy constructing homemade gift coasters, festooned with photos of my face wrapped in tinsel, he's watching Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi on volume 11 to drown out the sound of my off-key carol humming.
SNF is Greek, and so early on, I was told that his family has different holiday traditions than mine. One of them is that they celebrate on New Year's Eve instead of Christmas. A little investigation has proved that this is not necessarily a Greek thing but more of a his-family thing, which I suspect they came up with to take advantage of post-holiday price drops. But I don't mind—it just means that much more Xmas for me.
This year, he started making noise about how we (I) have to limit ourselves to getting a "small" tree. To me, that means one that's my height instead of his. To him, "small" translates to a tabletop model. My therapist says that this is one of those things we're just going to have to compromise on. Um, no! My feeling is that if I'm paying a licensed mental health care professional, he should be on my side! Obviously, not everyone shares this opinion.
So I turned to friends, asking how they dealt with the festive-discrepancy. I know my friend Julie's boyfriend is constantly ferreting away her Mexican religious artifacts and replacing them with action figures, but he didn't seem to have any problem sitting under the tree and collecting the gifts last Dec. 25.
Kris, my accountant, has a true Scrooge for a husband. "I put the tree up, and then the day after Christmas, when I go back to work, he takes it down while I'm still at the office. That's a killable offense, don't you think?" Definitely!
Like so many people, Kate gets depressed around the holidays, but she's a champ and tries to tough it out. Her boyfriend doesn't bother. "As with most parts of my life, I've just done my best to reclaim the holidays from the stain and taint and misery of my childhood. But there will be no decorations or holiday cheer in our house if [the boyfriend] can help it." Bah, humbug!
My buddy Carly, who happens to be Jewish, married not only a goy but a Christmas enthusiast at that. To further complicate things, two years ago they had a baby. She told me, "We celebrate both. I jazz up Hanukkah, though it is a minor holiday. This year it coincides with Christmas, so I am traveling to Georgia with matzo meal to make potato pancakes." Two holidays? Baby Judah's got it made!
But even with this enlightened, all-inclusive approach, there are problems: "My husband's family are gift-giving psychos—like 10 presents each for seven people," she laughs. "I only give three presents each, and they're usually little-ass, so I wind up feeling like the cheap Jew who doesn't 'get' the spirit of Christmas."
My buddy Debra, married to a lovely Cuban lass, also suffers from religious differences. "It's still an adjustment for this lapsed Jew, who really resents having Xmas shoved down her throat. Especially 'cause it interferes with her birthday!" OK, that I get. If the Christ Child were trying to horn in on my birthday fun, we might have words, too.
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