Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twas the Day After Xmas

On Xmas day, I received a phone call from my first-cousin, twice removed, on my Mother’s Father’s side of the family.

The lovely woman is in her late 80s, lives in the cold and dank Midwest, and she called to tell me about all of the Xmas songs she’s been listening to, and wanted to wish me a Merry Xmas. I wished her a happy holy day, but reminded her that I am Jewish and we don’t celebrate Xmas.  Both of my Great Grandparents on my Mother’s Father’s side are buried in a Jewish Cemetery in Szolnok, Hungary, a place that I have visited twice. My Grandfather was born in Szolnok, and in 1982 I found the records of his birth in a huge ledger in a small Jewish center there, along with the birth records of nine of his brothers and sisters.

I have managed to trace some of his siblings in Hungary, and only one brother immigrated to the United States, and I met him once. I also have met his three children, some of their descendants, and these are the generations where the Jewish connection disappeared.

Thank God for the Pope
Xmas is Xmas, since I don’t want to put “Christ” in my greetings, although I have been more comfortable with him after Pope Benedict XVI exonerated the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there are still many who believe that one or more of my kin are still guilty of that crime.

It Was "La La' to Me
When I was in the fourth grade, I was a member of our elementary school’s chorus that entertained at a non-Jewish community center one Xmas. When it came time to sing “Silent Night,” written by Joseph Mohr in 1818, I was instructed to “fake” the lyrics whenever his name was to be sung. So for years, I thought that his name was “La La,” as I earnestly sang, “La La, Our Savior was born.”

It Pays to Advertise
On Xmas Day, Lobby Hobby ran two advertisements in the San Jose Mercury News. One was a quarter page in black and white that offered “All Remaining Christmas Items 66% OFF.”

The second was a full-page in living color, that proclaimed, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David, A SAVIOR who is CHRIST the LORD,” quoting Luke 2:11.

If you wanted to know “Jesus as Lord,” there was a phone number to call, as well a website available to download a free Bible for your phone.

Each advertisement closed with the company logo and a sign-off line that reads, “Super Savings, Super Selection – Everyday.”  However, it’s not quite so, since the hobby store is naturally closed on Sundays.

A Holiday Break
I am pleased that we now have a break from holidays for a few days, and I want to wish one and all a Happy New Year, as well a Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 20, a warm Chinese New Years on January 31, a welcome Groundhog Day on February 2, followed by Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Flag Day, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Daylight Savings Time on March 9, St. Patrick’s Day, Benito Juarez Birthday, the arrival of Spring, April Fools Day, Palm Sunday, Passover, Good Friday, and Easter.

Black and Blue
As you may readily realize, many of these holy days seem to have been created by retail merchants, who have added Black Friday to our national traditions. This year it is followed starting today by Blue Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as people line up to return unwanted and unneeded gifts, and then tabulate how much they spent for the holy day.

Some may have had added help spending even more, if they had a Target credit card.

To get more in the holiday spirit, next year I plan to deck my halls with boughs of challah.