When I was a kid Christmas was a fun time even for Jews. You got time off and it was all pretty outside with the lights and sometimes even the snow. Oh once in a while the six hundredth chorus of Silent Night at the Waldbaum’s made my brain threaten to leave my skull. But my dad the mailman got his annual Christmas money so all was happy in my home. The actual day itself it was that classic Jewish duo: Chinese food and a movie. That what we Jews do on Christmas day. We have a nice egg drop soup, some chow fun, and then we head to the movies.
I’ve never been allowed to work or attend school on Christmas Day in my entire life.
So I sympathize when fall shows up and the Jewish holidays come by. This is when non-Jews face the same dilemma we often do: what to do when you have off for someone else’s holiday. Believe me, I understand. I know what it’s like to have a fun holiday around you but it isn’t your holiday. With that in mind, in the spirit of the Hanakah bush and the bagel ornament, I offer up some similar activities for those gentiles who have children who have off on Rosh Ha’shanah and Yom Kippur.
Apologize to Friends and Relatives
This is what many Jews do in preparation for our New Year. We try to make amends for anything bad we may have done during the year. Apology, like guilt and sarcasm is one of about five or six native Jewish languages. You want to think about the bad, not-so-bad and things that could be bad and then apologize. I suppose it’s sort of like a Jewish version of confession only not with priests. My eldest child particularly likes long apology sessions with the cats and some kitty treats.
Apples and honey are a traditional Rosh Ha’shanah food. The New Year should be greeted with sweetness. And what could be sweeter than honey and apples fresh off the tree? So visit your local orchard and join in with us. Have a few Winesaps or some Granny Smiths with your kids in the fresh air.
Chinese Food and a Movie
A time honored classic among American Jews. You can find Chinese food in nearly every corner of the world. I suspect you can find Jews in every corner of the world where you can find Chinese food as well. Drink some tea, enjoy the lo mein, nosh on those dumplings, sample nice chicken and broccoli and grab some almond cookies to go. Then hit the local movie theater.
Early New Year’s Resolutions
Technically the standard new year does not begin until January. But ignore the calendar and start now. Get a head start on that weight loss plan. Have at the healthier eating, more positive thinking and plans to spend more time with the kids. We won’t tell.
On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, we Jews twelve and over fast. Or at least fast as much as we manage. I try to make to at least high tea if I can. Fasting can be a way of getting your mind off of bodily concerns and get in tune with your deepest spiritual side. So if Chinese food isn’t quite your thing and the apple orchard a long drive away consider the fast.