Being Jewish, Christmas was always a bit of a mystery, or rather some exotic hyper-real world. We [my little brother and I ] would see Christmas on movies and on TV, but it never seemed real to us. I had a few Germans staying with me years ago, and we picked up beer at the liquor store and they couldn't get over the fact that they actually put the beer bottles in brown paper bags, like in the movies. They had seen it in American movies, but always thought it was a dramatiztion of reality and spent the whole time acting like movie characters and laughing at the brown bags. That's kinda what Christmas is to me. I can understand the excitement, I love the lights and decorations, I love the food, trees, gifts, etc., but the idea of it will always feel like I am "acting" Christmas.
My brother and I used to "play" Christmas as kids. My mom decided that we should get some sort of gift Christmas morning [especially if Channukah came much earlier], so she would put a Jingle Bear outside our bedroom doors and in the morning my brother and I would open our doors and scream with excitement. Then we would dance around and thank Santa and play Christmas. [Santa was another interesting concept since the whole idea of Xmas was surreal, then it was never a question of whether we believed in Santa, since he was part of the whole holiday charade.] We never had lights or decorations [mom would put some Channukah decals up on the window and pull out the menorahs, one fancy one, and one made by each my brother and I.]
I've run a store for many years and have become well acquainted with the notion of Xmas and this mysterious perfect inexpensive item of small size referred to as the "stocking stuffer". I know that stocking stuffers sell and people will buy anything if it can fit inside a stocking.
The season though makes me feel like a but of an outsider; immersed in the culture yet clearly just as an observer.
Our family is really relaxed with certain rules of holidays, and we are busy people with no kids under 23. So we plan our gift exchange whenever it fits into our schedules, which happens to be tonight. Dinner and gifts at Grandma's. Somethings though don't change, there will be deli food ordered, leftover Kugel, and my little brother will be disappointed that he didn't receive the ridiculously expensive gift that he asked for. This post mentioned how the unchanging celebrations are often unmemorable, which is completely true. My favourite and only memory of Rosh Hashanah was the time we went out to a fancy dinner before temple, and then were too full and tired to go to temple. Had we actually gone, I probably wouldn't remember that night at all.
Ok so why the chicken/ rooster pictures? Because after I picked my brother up from the airport Xmas morning, we took the dog for a walk and found this bird roaming the residential streets of my neighbourhood. We chased it around for a while to get a good picture and then I took to knocking on doors asking if they had lost a chicken [which I thought was hilarious]. A family came home and were trying to help us catch the bird and hold it in their yard until animal control came. Yes, I was the person who called animal control on Christmas Day to report a chicken on the loose.
Cheers all and happy holidays!