I'll be honest. My parents weren't really into holidays, either for themselves or for us kids. We celebrated some American holidays, but as newly minted Americans (I was born in England and didn't become a US citizen until I was 16) a lot of those holidays seemed less than vital. Then there were birthdays, which just weren't much of a big deal, with frankly uninspired present exchanges. Finally, we also celebrated the main Jewish holidays (Passover, Hannukah) but, again, not with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Of all those, I think Passover seder was the most memorable, and I have many fond memories of my cousin David and I giggling and cracking up as the ceremonial dinner proceeded, us often interrupting the readings with long portions of Monty Python dialog. I can only imagine how the adults dealt with it, but as a kid, it was definitely a fun holiday to celebrate with good food and favorite family members.
Now that I'm a single dad, creating holiday memories for my own children has become much more important. Whether it's my traditional Thanksgiving pot luck with friends and their children (my family lives far away, unfortunately) or hosting their birthday parties at our party-friendly house -- most recently my girl's sweet 16 sleepover! -- I have come to realize the value of celebration, the truth that without occasionally taking time out to be with the ones we love just for fun and social activity, it's hard to remember to be grateful and appreciative of the blessings we have in our lives.
And I can only hope that in ten or twenty years my children will be sharing with me their favorite holiday memories from when they were kids, whether it's the splattery mess of latkes for Hannukah and the gambling on which of the candles will burn out first on the menorah or my extraordinary ability to pick perfect presents for them, year after year. Well, maybe the latter's a bit much to hope for!
After all, holidays are about all of us, they're about our ability to stop and smell the proverbial roses, to enjoy and appreciate the amazing people with whom we get to travel through our lives. And if they're our kids, so much the better!
What's one thing you have to appreciate this holiday season?
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