My Jewish husband and my Jewish friends suggest that Passover is as close to Christmas as the Jewish calendar gets. Yes, there is Hanukkah, but everyone seems to agree it has been hyped up to offer a similar-with-gifts-and-parties-and-celebrations December holiday. Passover, like Christmas, brings a lifetime of memories and recipes and nostalgia. I don't know if it regularly brings the same kind of family strum und drang, but I suspect that it might.
This year we so far have avoided any family big tensions, and are expecting a rather retro Christmas Eve. As some of you know, for many years, we hosted an elegant Christmas Eve dinner, sitting around the table with another family. When my wonderful husband entered my life, of course his children needed to be included, too, and then, hey, how about some close friends, and then the children began to pair up and eventually to have children of their own--and somehow we found ourselves hosting a crazy, out of control, boisterous, delicious, wonderful, chaotic event. There were people everywhere and carols being sung and much wine being drunk, and over-sugared children racing around--and eventually sitting on a blanket in the hall, armed with small hammers, to destroy a gingerbread house or two,
This year we are expecting a smaller version, somewhere between the two traditions. A number of family groups, for a range of reasons, can't be here, so we will be 17 adults and 4 children. That means less chaos, for sure, but also less of the bursting-with-family-and-dear-friends feeling that I have loved. I know, however, that there will be a number of moments--especially when I look at my three granddaughters in their matching red plaid Christmas dresses, when I will be overcome with gratitude and wonder. Never thought I would live to experience this. How blessed I am.
Even if this holiday is feeling very hard, I hope that you can notice and appreciate your own blessings. They are there and begin with the community we have built together. L'Chaim. To life.
On this amazingly warm and almost humid New England Christmas Eve, all is calm, all is bright.