The Traditions of a New England Jewish Girl During the Holidays

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!”.

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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*

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


9. Covertly purchase essential items upon arrival.

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-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.

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

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

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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.

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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}

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