Monday, December 22, 2008

Oy Vey . . . It's Christmas

Oy Vey . . . It’s Christmas
By Julie Stankowski

Oy Vey. Oh holy Jesus. Chanukah. Christmas. Gelt. Yule logs. Menorahs. Nativity scenes. Dreidels. Santa Claus. Potato latkes. Ham.

Christmakah or Chanuchristmas or however you want to say it, is an animal unto itself if you happened to have married someone of a different faith. For a Jewish girl (that would be me), the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year’s with eight days of Chanukah in between. Chanukah means taking out a few special menorahs, buying Chanukah candles, wrapping eight presents and making potato latkes (not so hard, you can use frozen shredded potatoes!). For a Christian boy (that would be my husband), the holiday season begins and ends the same way, but it is the in between time, when I am doing Chanukah and he is doing Christmas, that always makes me feel the major cultural difference between Jews and Christians (forgive me for my shallow take on interfaith marriage boiling down to Chanukah and Christmas. I am simply too ignorant about religion to discuss anything more substantive).

So, each year during Christmakah, my husband and I fight. You want to know what we fight about? Let me tell you. First, half of my three-car garage is unusable all year long because it is packed with Christmas storage boxes. I have never in my life seen someone with so much stuff! Anyway, the day after Thanksgiving, my dear husband pulls my car out of the garage (the only car that can fit in the overstuffed garage) so that he can begin what I have now come to know as the long, long journey into decorating the house for the holidays. He needs room to pull down all of his boxes and view what he has accumulated over the last 40 years (I don’t think he has gotten rid of one Christmas decoration since Kennedy was president!). He then decides which of the 500 boxes will come into the house and subsequently sit in the house for weeks while he decorates after work and on the weekends.

In between the decorating, he must shop. And shop. And shop. I think every clerk at Target, Toys R Us, Nordstrom, Costco and Macy’s is on a first name basis with my husband. He has (sorry, Honey) an illness. Is there an organization known as Christmas Shoppers’ Anonymous? I could just see my husband, “Hi, I am Jim and I am a Christmas Shopoholic.” I hope this article does not cause a divorce, but seriously, I do not think there is one toy or gadget currently on the market that is not in my house waiting to be wrapped for one of my children. It is the most serious case of gluttony I have ever witnessed. This is the case year after year after year. I mean how many children get so much that they can’t even open all of their presents and half of those hard-to-find toys end up sitting in my already overflowing garage until the following holiday season when I donate them to the cute firemen to give to Toys for Tots (okay, one benefit for me). So, once I think there are no more possible presents my husband can buy, he asks me to go shopping with him and tells me we hardly have anything for the kids. Are you kidding me? Well, I reluctantly go with him for I know this is a battle I cannot win. We buy five more bags of toys that I (Oy!) have to wrap. Then, on Christmas Eve, without fail, my husband tells me has a few more things he forgot to take out of his trunk. Can I please wrap them? OMG.

Okay, so back to the decorating. No exaggeration . . . There is not an inch of my house that is not covered with a Christmas decoration of some sort or another. Wreaths, check. Garlands, check. Little Santa’s, check. Big Santa’s, check. Huge real tree, check. Many, many ornaments check. Christmas soap dispensers, towels, dishes, cups, salt and pepper shakers, soup tureens, tissues, toilet paper, cookie jars, sleighs, check. It has taken weeks for my husband to decorate the house and during this time of year, some may refer to him as Mr. Martha Stewart. I, on the other hand, take out my one “Happy Chanukah” sign and desperately try to find a spot for it. It is literally hanging on the oven handles of my Viking because there is no more visible place available.

Here is a typical November/December conversation between my husband and me:

The day after Thanksgiving . . .

Husband: I’m going to pull your car out of the garage so I can start taking down the Christmas decorations.

Me: Ummm, okay. Do you want to go through them so we can get rid of what we don’t use anymore?

Husband: No. Please don’t ruin my Christmas.

Three days later . . .

Me: There seems to be an extra Jesus Christ in our entry way, along with the four others. Did you buy another one?

Husband: It is not Jesus Christ, Julie. It is Santa Claus. Don’t you know the difference? And no, I didn’t buy another one. These were all here last year.

Me: No, I don’t know the difference. They look alike to me. (Then, I walk away and think to myself, “Oh my God, I will be living in a church for the next month. And I know that my husband just bought that fourth Jesus Christ, I mean Santa.”)

Three days later . . .

Husband: When can you go shopping with me? We need to start shopping. We don’t have much time left.

Me: You go. I’m going to try to do some shopping online. I don’t feel like dealing with the crowds. Don’t go crazy this year, okay?

Husband: Please don’t ruin my Christmas.

Three days and 30 presents later . . .

Husband: Have you made time to go shopping with me? We don’t have very much stuff.

Me: I really don’t feel like shopping. You go.

Husband: I want you to go with me. I want to pick things out together.

Me: Well, what are you looking for exactly?

Husband: I don’t know. I won’t know it until I see it. That is why we have to go out looking.

Me: Okay, but don’t you think we have enough?

Husband: I work my butt off all year long so that my family can have a special Christmas. This is what I live for. It matters to me. It makes me feel good to give to others. Please don’t ruin my Christmas.

Four days and 400 presents later . . .

Husband: Do you think we should get that Cadillac Escalade mini car for Jack (our three year old son)?

Me: Do you think we should get that $4 million dollar beach house I have always wanted? Because maybe if we don’t buy the Escalade and we return just a few toys, we could afford it!!!!!!!

January 2009 . . .

My son is cruising around our driveway in his new Cadillac Escalade. My daughter is be-bopping around the house listening to the cool Hannah Montana tunes blasting from her new Ipod. My husband is taking down decorations and preparing to put the 500 boxes back into the garage. I am smiling because, even though I didn’t get my beach house, I know that my family had a great holiday. Oh. . . . . And because with all of the new Christmas presents scattered all over, my husband won’t realize that I stole the fourth Jesus he bought and donated it to St. Max’s Church.

Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

sue said...

very funny,sure hope it isn't like this everyday!
M