Jef and I spend Christmas with my dad’s side of the family, because nobody does Christmas better than the Jews.

No presents except small silly ones. Traditions include listening to the Queen’s address, jam sessions, a walk through the cemetery, and food. Lots and lots of food, from turkey to bagelech to mince meat pie. If it’s Hanukkah, we do that too. On Boxing Day we go to the movies and get carry-out sushi so nobody has to cook.

New Year is with my mom’s family, which means one fancy dinner out and one pizza delivery night in. Euchre gets more competitive as the holiday wears on. Devoted Democrats and Republicans tease one another about how ridiculous everybody’s politicians seem to be. Some are wealthy, some are struggling, and some are in between, but nobody feels embarrassed about how much or how little they have. Everybody recites their annual poems. We laugh until the end of the year.

Thanksgiving is spent with Jef’s stepfamily. The vegans (there are several) and the omnivores label their potluck dishes carefully, and everyone serves themselves, buffet style. People talk politics and ask riddles and play with the dogs and the little kids. Independence Day is the same, only with more of the family. The Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Pagans, agnostics, and Baha’is sing and play games. Those who drink alcohol drink. Those who don’t, don’t. Blond rugby player Osama hangs out with his Tanzanian aunt. It’s hard to tell the Alabamans from the Ohioans, the liberals from the libertarians, or even who’s biologically related and who’s not.

So when people get upset because others don’t celebrate their holidays, call it selfish or unnatural or a cultural attack, it’s hard for me to understand. In our families, we love each other for all our differences. Shouldn’t the holidays be the time it’s easier than ever to treat everyone with the same kindness as we offer to those we hold dear?

 

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