The Traditions of a New England Jewish Girl During the Holidays


By Sarah Winters

Maybe you love The Holidays. Maybe you dread them. Maybe it’s a mixed bag of complicated hopes, dreams and fears. Whether the coming weeks bring you Chinese food and a movie or all things anise and peppermint or maybe business as usual, things come up. Uncertainty fills the air at home and abroad and I don’t know about you, but it’s a bit harder to feel any version of happy, hopeful, restful warmth this year. And I think that’s okay. While the deep white snowy Decembers of my growing up in Boston have melted away, a few things stay the same.

Here are some quintessential Bostonian traditions.

1. Make pilgrimage to the Harvard Sq. Holiday Fair in the basement of First Church.


2.  Re-listen to every This American Life Christmas Special.


3. Find that one three-wick pine/cedar scented candle from real trees.


4. Install Seasonal Greenery. (Foliage is secular, actually pagan, let’s be real – probably witchcraft)


5. Knit mom that purple scarf you started last year 4 years ago. For real this time. 


6. If visiting hometown, schedule exact days/times to see friends. Besties do not mess around. 


7. Choose a ~look~ you’d like to style at Grandparent’s house for Christmas.


Options include but are not limited to

-Weird Hippie Artist (lots and lots of beads. and rings. and earth tones. and skirts of bizarre lengths. Final touch: patchouli oil)

-Butch-Ish (denim on denim, all boots all the time, gender neutral clothing, perhaps carry screwdriver as accessory. No jewelry.)

-Femme AF (foofy fuzzy shit, probably pink or white or sparkling or glistening or matching your lipgloss. Bows are a must. Bonus if you resemble the exquisite poise and softness of a Westminster lhasa apso.)

 -Subtle Queer (plaid, beanie, affinity for Buffy, oxfords or boots. Shrug a lot.)

-Not Taking Your Shit (grown up, clean, polished but not inviting. Definitely black on black, ‘natural’ makeup with a modest but noticeable liquid line. For 90s vamp add disturbingly dark burgundy lipstick)

-Elite Hippie (you smell like ivy and brick sidewalks, must haves include collared shirt, matching crew, v neck or cardigan. Unassuming shoes that go unnoticed because you’re too busy talking about all the books you’ve read about gut flora and mindfulness and NATO.)

7b. Choose a life you’d like to live without feeling like total shit every time someone asks, “So, what are you doing these days? It’s been so long!”.


Get creative. It’s not lying, it’s your personal narrative and salvation.

8. Pack in suitcase:

a) an extra rx of anti anxiety meds

b) gin

c) weed*


*For transport via Mother Nature’s Pocket, see Broad City for further instructions.

9. Covertly purchase essential items upon arrival.


-Hellmans Mayo Original, none of that lite shit

-Real Butter.

-A banana or something. It’s the last you’ll see of fresh fruit for a bit.

10. At Grandparents’ house: unplug all artificial scent devices sporting electric green liquid and constant headaches.


11. Do not think about where you were this time last year. Or the year before. You’ve worked too hard to get here.


11b. Accept that you will be consumed by the insanity of twenty people under one roof.


11c. While the carrying capacity was reached long ago, this is an acute special ops mission. This too shall pass whether you like it or not.


Sarah is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via Pexels}