Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Erev Christmas!

We are safely at my in-laws place in *Not very popular midwestern state* in an exurb of *only large city in state*. We drove here Monday and Tuesday (Stayed overnight at a lovely motel in Bumblefuck, Ohio on Monday night), and Barkley came with us. He was actually really good in the car, although he went a little crazy with barking in the motel and our first night here- I think he was just confused and discombobulated a bit. The motel we stayed at in Ohio had a box of 'hunter's rags' at the front door, which I did not look too closely at.

Meanwhile there are SO many presents downstairs, and normally we open them on Christmas eve but this year my sister in law has kennel duty (she's a vet tech in training) on Christmas eve and won't be getting in until Christmas afternoon, so no presents until Christmas after dinner! Ahhh!

OK, am I like a 3 year old or what? Well, this IS only my third Christmas. :) B and I had a lot of fun wrapping presents yesterday..he wraps them so much better than me, mine also look like a 3 year old wrapped them. :) Seriously though, there's like a mountain of gifts downstairs and there's only 5 of us and the youngest (my SIL) is 23...although Barkley and my sister in law's dog (Penny, a beagle) also get gifts. We still havn't decorated the tree though, guess we will be doing that today. Tonight we have B's family traditional Christmas eve dinner which is made up entirely of appetizers, and tomorrow we are having a big prime rib dinner, followed by the gift opening of course. We all sit in a big circle and go around the circle each opening a gift one at a time until we run out.

Ooh and my mother in law also said we can have her old giant fake tree once we have a bigger place that it will actually fit into (it's too big for them to handle setting up every year anymore), and said I could pick through her ornaments and take a bunch home for our table-top tree- my father in law worked for hallmark for many years so she seriously has the best ornaments ever. :)

Meanwhile the people must not have much to do around here, because nearly every single house on the block is decked out in crazy lights...there's a house a couple of blocks away that has a crazy light show that is coordinated with music you can play on your radio (they are broadcasting it from their house), we drove by to visit the other night and there were like 20 cars just parked outside their house watching the show. :) Apparently they won an award for having the best christmas lights in the *only large city in not very popular midwestern state* metro area.

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I was chatting with my brother's ex girlfriend today (we run in the same circles so are still friends even though they broke up like 5 years ago), and she was saying how she remembers when she was dating my brother how so NOT into holidays and family I was back then, and she seemed surprised I was so into christmas now. But the holiday experience is so different between my family and B's family (apart from the obvious, that I celebrated different holidays at my parent's). Holidays at my parent's house were always full of yelling and people fighting (always about religion and politics) and people saying racist/super-conservative things that made me want to throw up. Last time I went home to a family thing, around a year and a half ago, my Aunt spent the entire dinner trying to convince me that Obama was a muslim and how we can't have a "shvartza" as president (*vomit*). I mean it wasn't all bad, and people of my generation were generally nice and not judgmental/racist, and there wasn't a huge dramatic fight EVERY time we got together, but it happened on a fairly frequent basis.

Also ever since I was a teenager, going to family holidays meant being criticized for my religious/personal choices, usually openly in front of everyone. My grandma used to always say "IMPROVE" instead of goodbye when she was leaving, people used to stare at my piercings/hair/whatever and openly criticize me -I have 3 earrings in each ear and had an eyebrow ring for about 6 months a few years ago that I don't think anyone in my family ever got over. I also had dreadlocks for a year, which- you guessed it- led to more racist comments.

While at B's place, everyone gets along and is nice to each other and genuinely just enjoys each other's company and likes each other and acts like normal human beings. I love thanksgiving at his cousin's place too. Maybe it's cause I am new to the family and so they are on their best behavior- but I don't think that's it.

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Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it!

12 comments:

  1. Penny isn't here yet, because she's not coming till my sister in law comes tomorrow- but I will let you know! I think they will be fine, they both are pretty friendly dogs that get along with other dogs.

    The big husky that lives next door however tried to pee on Barkley through the fence like 3 times already :)

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  2. have been you reading your blog off and on for a while....

    i'm a bit put off by your constant need to associate conservative thought with racism.

    I'm conservative in my political thoughts, I grew up frum in Brooklyn, and am not racist at all. In fact, my husband and I get just as upset as you do when those types of comments are made.

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  3. Did u avoid my question or did u just miss it? I'm guessing the latter is correct I am copying and pasting it again. If I'm wrong and u just dont feel like answering,just delete this or w/e.
    On the post Oy Geavlt I commented:

    "Hi

    I just came across this blog, and have spent the past hour reading it.

    There is one thing I'm wondering about, (it was triggered by the lovely Chanuka pic u posted of your family) and I would appreciate your honest opinion.

    In your current view of things, is there anything your parents could have done , or avoid, during your childhood and/or adolescence that would have resulted in a different outcome from their perspective (i.e. a frum daughter...) ?

    Thanks ahead,
    BJ "

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  4. Michal-

    Sorry, I meant they were saying racist AND super conservative things (and I meant both socially and politically conservative), not that that all conservative things are racist.

    And I'm a bit confused by your statement about my "constant need" to associate the two, as I don't remember ever talking about racism before in my blog. But maybe I did and I don't recall.

    Bhochster- sorry must have missed it.
    It's hard to say if there's anything they could have done differently when I was a child, as I don't remember much of what they DID do back then, but when I was an adolescent and first beginning to go OTD my parents reaction certainly did not help.

    They would react to me starting to go OTD by punishing me and restricting the types of things I could do (for instance grounding me for 4 months when they found out about my secret boyfriend), rather than having any kind of discussion with me, other then the standard "We are really disappointed in you, you are grounded indefinitely" etc.

    Later on when I was in college they would try to force me to be more religious by putting strings on everything financial (which at that point, before I was financially independent, was the only effective way of getting me to do things). They would put restrictions like: they would pay for my college dorm and tuition, but I had to come home every single weekend for shabbas (my college was about a 2-2.5 hour commute from my parents). They said they would stop paying my tuition if I didn't come home every weekend.

    Them trying to force me to do something I had no interest in just made me resent them all the more, and made me even less interested in jewish activities. As I told my dad once, "if the only reason I'm doing religious things is because I need your money, what do you expect to happen once I don't need your money anymore?"

    So I guess my answer would be yes. I think if they had tried to convince me with words instead of trying to force me with punishments I would have reacted a lot better and not have felt so much anger against jewish practices, which I was forced to do against my will. I think if they had encouraged me to try to explore parts of judaism that DID interest me instead of trying to enforce the parts that were important to them, I might have much more of a connection to judaism than I do today (although I do not think i would be MO by any stretch of the imagination). But by trying to force me, they alienated me from the entire religion.

    As I said in a comment recently somewhere, I think a parent's job moves from management to sales once your child becomes an adolescent- when they are children you direct them to do what you want them to do, but once they are an adolescent you have to "sell" them your values if you expect them to follow them. I can't remember my parents ever having a conversation with me about their feelings on why judaism was the right thing to do, the advantages of being jewish, etc. Instead they simply tried to force me to follow it without giving any reasonable rationale (maybe they themselves don't have one)

    Now, I'm not saying this is something that could be applicable to anyone- I am by nature very contrary, so this particular approach worked horribly on me. But I think generally trying to force a teenager to go to religious activities when they have no interest is not going to have a good result. The same thing happened with my brother in fact- I remember them trying to force him to go to shul every shabbas when he had no interest, and now he is also OTD.

    By the time my youngest brother was growing up they seemed to have learned their lesson, were a little looser with him (for instance they let him go to a co-ed high school, while they made me and my other brother go to single-sex high schools even though I begged them to let me go to Frisch), and he is now more religious than even my parents are.

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  5. isnt it pretty hypocritical of you to leave judaism an then celebrate christmas

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  6. christmas is a religious holiday and you seem to be pretty anti religion

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  7. christmas is a religious holiday for some and a cultural holiday for others (or both). The way in which I celebrate does not involve religion in any way- we go to visit my in-laws, have a couple of fancy family meals together, set up a tree with some ornaments, and exchange gifts. In past years my inlaws have gone to christmas mass (without me and my husband) but this year they didn't even do that. At no point during dinner or at any other part of christmas was jesus or Christianity or any religion mentioned.

    I see no problem in celebrating my husband's family tradition of getting together on this day, having a fancy meal together, and giving each other presents. If christmas is religious for some, well, who cares? I ate some latkes on chanukah, but I wouldn't call that 'religious' either.

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  8. I think your participation in christmas shows your selfishness. you celebrate the part you like (presets, meals, tree) but ignore the fact that christmas is the day all observing christians remember the birth of jesus.

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  9. J how is it selfish to celebrate a holiday? I'm not hurting anyone as far as I can tell. What exactly is your problem here?

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