Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
Am I the only one running around like a chicken with my head cut off?
This is crazy!! It should be illegal to have two major family holidays at
the same time!! To complicate this, we are a mixed marriage; half the
family is Jewish and the other half not. The not half is mine, and while
they are not very observant Christians, they are very WASP identified.
For example, that they have been pronouncing my husband’s name
Epstein, as Ep-steen, with an emphasis on the steen for ten years,
despite repeated corrections. I know they won’t want to be lighting
candles and singing Chanukah songs over their turkey. I’m trying to
raise my boys with a knowledge of Judaism and expect they will be Bar
Mitzvah-ed. Also I am beyond late on Chanukah cards and cannot
imagine getting anything out to far-away relatives as well as coping
with the locals. Other than freezing the clock and handing me a week
of free days, so you have any super-powered suggestions?
Two problems, two solutions. For the locals, ask the hostess,
presumably not you, if they would like to learn a little about Chanukah
or not. If they say yes, bring a menorah and candles, and have one of
the boys explain the story of the miracle of lights. (You can help him
get it right.) Adults won’t (or shouldn’t) be rude to a pre-teen. You can
also bring a bag of coins and teach them the dreydl game. Gambling is
a great leveler. If they decline the chance to be ecumenical, celebrate
at home after you leave them.
As for the far-aways, they’re probably scrambling as much and as fast
as you are. If you have an email list or FaceBook way of
communicating simply with everyone, use electrons instead of stamps.
Say that with the confluence of celebrations you’re crazy busy and
have not had time to write the kind of personal notes you prefer to
send. Say that even if they do not receive a card before the eight days
have ended, that you will be sure to communicate as soon as the local
busy-ness has subsided. Wish everyone a day of blessings and
gratitude with their local loved ones, and special thoughts from your
family. If you have some cute current pictures of your children to post,
all the better. Perhaps a child with drumstick in one hand and menorah
in the other!