Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Attack of the Humbugs

I know Christmas is upon us if for no other reason than that I watched a Hugh Grant movie last night. I chose Notting Hill because it was on the top of my stack of Hugh Grant DVDs.

Christmas has always been weird for me because I grew up in an observant Jewish household where we vehemently did NOT celebrate Christmas. We would sit around all day on December 25, purposefully doing nothing special. It was so depressing. I always felt I was missing out on something huge, as if all my friends had gone to a Rolling Stones concert while I had to stay at home.

Later in life I tried repeatedly to horn in on other people's Christmases but I always felt like a fraud, completely out of place. People still invite me to celebrate with them, often referring to me as a "waif" or an "orphan." Honestly, I not a waif or an orphan. I know they are being generous, but I always feel so insulted. That's my problem, not theirs!

I don't even enjoy the Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food and going out to the movies. The Chinese food always gives me a stomach ache - too much MSG, I suppose. Even spending the day as a Jew I always feel somehow that I'm cheating. Don't ask me why, I can't explain it.

So Christmas is always a weird day for me. As a coping mechanism, I watch Hugh Grant movies. Why Hugh Grant, you might wonder. My British friends wonder, definitely, since most of them are anything but enthused by Mr. Grant. As one of my friends explained, "A fumbling posh guy is not so entertaining to many of us."

Oh. That explains a lot.

Truth is, it's not Hugh that I'm particularly interested in. I love his films because most of them carry as an underlying theme the way that people can adopt each other and become family. Four Weddings and a Funeral, About a Boy, Notting Hill, and Love, Actually are all built around a circle of idiosyncratic people who take each other in, accept each other, adopt each other. I love that.

Two more days and three more films, and it'll all be over till next year. Until then, it's Bah Humbug and Hugh Grant all the way. Oh yeah!


Barbara said...

We'll miss your company as we eat dim-sum and go to a movie with a happy ending (my requirement).

Did you know that Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate any holidays -- not Thanksgiving, not Christmas, not birthdays. But they don't vote either, so I doubt that would appeal to you! :)

Lori ann said...

Dear Reya, when you first came to my site you made a comment i won't ever forget. You said that I was brave enough to admit something. I think the same about you, and that most everybody is idiosyncratic and fitting together(or not)in the end.I'd like to take a break from the merrymaking and come watch Love Actually with you.
xx Lori

deborah said...

I get this
and love my adopted wider family
and love the Hannukah candles which bring light to the shortest darkest day

I love Christmas
(in fact, I realized the other day that every Christmas Hollywood song I'd been singing was written by a Jew or Jews)

I love all the songs, all the foods the cards and the colors

Out of sync yes
But living in a Hugh Grant movie too

Loving you with all my heart
in this season of dark and light
and hope for a better year ahead

It's been a particularly hard season for me and reading and seeing your photos helps


Reya Mellicker said...

Deborah so sorry it's been hard!

Lori, thank you so much! I'll pop some corn, c'mon let's watch Love Actually.

ArtSparker said...

I think a feeling of unease goes with the long darkness, that's why there are all these whistling-past-the-graveyard celebrations at this time.

Also I hold with the theory that anyone who's self-aware feels like an impostor.

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow. We're enacting a sacred drama of cheerfulness? That's so cool.

Washington Cube said...

Four Weddings and a Funeral? Call my year Three Deaths and Two Broken Ribs. So glad 2008 is going Bye Bye. I like Barbara's idea of a cheery movie. I would have some schlock shock as well. You know the kind where Tara Reid dies at the end and everyone in the audience cheers.

Reya Mellicker said...

Cube? You have definitely had a bad year! Onwards & upwards to 2009! You know all about my hopes for the coming year.

tut-tut said...

Ha; I was listening to Talk of the Nation yesterday while ironing (yes, I know!) and they were talking about growing up Jewish and being allowed to see only certain kids holiday movies or specials on TV: The Grinch (Boris Karloff one), but not Frosty, say.

Your Hugh Grant tradition just might catch on and grow.

Just me said...

Until this year Christmas always made me a little sad. I grew up Jewish as well, the daughter of a Long Island Jew and a midwestern convert. We visited my mom's family at Christmas, but it made me feel very left out. That, and growing up in a very non-Jewish area I was constantly surrounded by the celebrations. So I was left with feelings of left-outedness.

My husband celebrates Christmas and is like a little kid still when the holiday comes around. This was our second Christmas together and I have to admit, I got caught up in his excitement, at least while we were at home. Visiting his very religious Catholic family brought back some of those feelings of being left out- I got plenty of gifts, but definitely was reminded that it's not "my" holiday...