Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 2: Daniella Brodsky: 12 Authors of Christmas


When I was young, Christmas was a big secret in our fourth floor walk-up apartment.  We’d enjoy the smell of pine and the glimmer of tinsel for a few days before my father hefted the tree and all conspicuous fa-la-la-dom down to the dump for my Grandfather’s Chanukah visit.  The dining set, which had been displaced for our big tree, now looked depressing in its place.

While my mother scoured the carpets for pine needles, latkes frying on the stovetop, I relished the idea that I was in on a big secret—an adult one, and I thought we were sensible and practical, making everyone happy.  As I ran my toes over the tree stand dents, doing my bit to straighten the weft, I felt just as lighthearted about ‘doing Chanukah’ with my Grandfather as I did a couple of days earlier about admiring the dangle effect of our candy canes.  To me, neither holiday was about religion.  Of course there were the gifts, but while I can only remember a handful of those (a color-in tablecloth, a Cabbage Patch doll named Mandy, a cardboard town that grew colorful fuzz care of a secret potion), the gatherings with friends and family, hopped up on soft drink and cookies ring clear as a bell in my mind. 

I’ve never been sentimental, but I do enjoy me some fun and there’s something about these year-punctuating events that do the soul good—the goofing, the burnt turkeys, the photos in silly hats.  The first time I could, I had a gathering so large in my studio apartment for Passover that I had to pile all the furniture on the bed to make way for a rented table; the brisket my mother talked me through barely fit in the pot.  There was only one other Jewish friend at that party and I recall a “kosher” dessert that was way too good to be the real thing (the truth later came out), but the twenty or so of us had a ball (even punched around an inflated “matzoh ball”), and it started me on a lifetime of entertaining people I love.  How could anyone argue with that?

And yet, people do.  As this holiday season approaches, and there’s so much global unrest, I can’t help but dwell on the way people so often think of religions as ways to divide us.  While it seems so simple to me:  can’t we all just get along?  I know these issues run deep, passionate, and complex.  Even on my small scale, why did we have to secret away our yuletide spirit from my grandfather all those years ago?  I don’t know the answer, and surely there certainly isn’t one clear one waiting for us to pluck from the abyss, but I do know one thing:  this December marks my daughter’s first holiday season, and all I want for her is fun (and a musical instrument set, I can’t help it; I know I’m in for a future of awesome headaches but she’ll have a ball).  There are too many other things she’ll have to fret over in her lifetime.  Hopefully, in this one instance, she can enjoy an annual ho ho ho and have herself a (matzoh) ball.

*Learn more about Daniella and her books HERE!


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You can take the girl out of Brooklyn, but can you take Brooklyn out of the girl? 
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