Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Reverb 2016 - White Elephant

White Elephant // What are the gifts you’re looking forward to giving, or hoping to receive?

When I was growing up, Hanukkah had some predictability to it. We would always receive: calendar, pajamas, at least one outfit, one "big" gift, usually a book, and a few little things that we wanted to fill in the gap. Once I got to college, it was truncated to calendar, pajamas, and a big gift. I really enjoyed that growing up. And it's a tradition that I plan to continue forward with Knish. The only gift we got her last year was a dreidel. And I would like to start a dreidel tradition every year.

I saw in Pinterest (a blessing and a curse) a set of gifts themed "something you want, something you need; something to wear, and something to read". I can pair this with a calendar, pajamas, dreidel, and charitable donation to round out the 8 nights. Since Hanukkah isn't about gifts, per se, I would still like to keep the holiday modest as the years go on, but I know celebrating Christmas with half the family will confound this.

This year, my husband's family and I are doing something new for us - we are cutting back on gifts for each other and are instead adopting a family and buying for them. We all agreed that by the end of the holiday, we felt obligated and drained, so why not take the budget we were going to spend and turn it into something positive. We are all taking great joy in planning what to get for the family and I hope we can turn this into an annual tradition.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Reverb 2016 - Sunny Surprises

Sunny Surprises //  Most of North America starts to get frosty and cold this time of year.  If you had an unusually warm (tank tops and flip flops warm!) day unexpectedly and didn’t have to work, what would you do?

As I type this, it is sunny and warm (50’s) in the south of France. There are palm trees outside. And yet I still cannot frolic (I have been inside the hospital, working, watching the beauty outside).

But were I home and the weather turned amazing, I would wander downtown Seattle, taking in the sights and tastes, and perhaps take a ferry to an island. I could enjoy the breeze and salty air. Or maybe head north, off the main highway, to a tiny town where Hubs and I went on our way to our babymoon. We can view the coast between the trees, eat at the homey café, and take in the antique shops in Edison.

Basically, anything I could do to soak up even the smallest amount of Vitamin D to stock up for the remaining cloudy days through May.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Reverb 2016 - Just Not that Into It

Just Not That Into It // Everyone has their own tipping point. What do you hate about the holidays?

I hate the “otherness” that I feel. I haven’t fully connected with a group of close Jewish friends here. And with my husband’s Christian family, I find myself saying “Christmas shopping” much more than “Hanukkah shopping” anymore. I don’t want to lose sight of my own heritage, but I find more and more that Hanukkah takes a back seat to my husband’s family’s Christmas celebration. That part is more sad than hateful. I certainly don’t hate his family for it – they welcome me and try to include my traditions (like latkes and candle lighting).

No, I hate the “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas” battle. It makes me feel more like an outsider every time someone posts a tirade about stores saying one instead of the other. Choosing sides here automatically excludes so many others. I absolutely understand that Christmas is one of the most religious holidays on the Christian calendar (presents aside) and that Hanukkah holds relatively low religious power; the debate is as polarizing in my mind as gun control. And while it seems a bit ridiculous to draw that much of an extreme parallel, I do so only to illustrate that it falls into the same “no-win” argument. I try to roll with it, knowing that I am in the minority. There’s probably a bit of deflection wrapped up in my head: it is hard to be in the minority and feel marginalized year after year. But it’s not about making Hanukkah mainstream (it’s still not a major holiday – and making it into one to compete with Christmas feels misplaced).

I love Christmas movies and Christmas cookies. I watch Elf almost on the daily this month, and my holiday playlist (a modern mix of Hanukkah, Christmas, and seasonal melodies) is on repeat. But I wish this debate about simple greetings wasn’t the end-all-be-all. I now block the posts when I see them on Facebook, but everything about the debate frustrates me. I say “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends/family. I say “Happy Hanukkah” to my Jewish friends/family. Our holiday cards send warm wishes for the season. And I would appreciate a simple “Happy Holidays” from the stores. And I know I have religious friends who want to “put the Christ back in Christmas” and that is fine! Of course I do not begrudge them for their own fervor and I know  that their devotion has nothing to do with me. But I do wish it were easier for them to remember that there are other celebrations and to acknowledge those at the same time.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Reverb 2016 - Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls // Show us your holiday decor!  If you don’t celebrate during this season, show us your favorite year-round home decor item.

We don’t have our Hanukkah decorations up (they are still buried in a tote from the move). I have two favorite decorations besides, though. One, still not up yet, is our wall gallery of photos from our travels. It includes photos from our week in Europe on the cruise, wedding and honeymoon photos, weekend trips away, and snapshots of our family. The wall represents moments in time that have lead our family to where we are now. I absolutely loved it in the apartment, but in the house, our first floor has so many windows that I don’t have a single large wall to put these all together. I think it may end up in our bedroom or going up the staircase. I do miss seeing it every day.

My other favorite, which is currently hanging, is out ketubah. It hangs in our entryway and is a daily reminder of those vows we took nearly seven years ago to love and respect each other. We entered the marriage as two people to build a life together as one, and under that umbrella of love and respect we welcome people into our home to become part of lives, as well. I love the art on the ketubah as much as I love what it represents for our home.