We, the People of the Jewish faith, are famous for our complaining. If you had ever gone out to dinner with my late Grandma Hilda and her husband, Sam, you'd know what I'm talking about.
First, there was the seating. With one table being "too noisy," and another, right under the air conditioning vent, and yet another, too close to the bathroom, it usually took three or four tries before we were offered a satisfactory spot.
Then, there was the food (cue Grandpa Sam), "You call this soup? This soup is for the birds! No, never mind. No bird I know would eat this soup-too spicy!"
And when we're through whining about our dining experiences, we can always find fault with the weather. My parents have been full-time South Floridians for more than 40 years, and when I ask how everything's going at any point from mid-May through late-September, they always respond the same. "It is so hot! You would not believe how hot it is!" And then, in December-February when the temperature can plummet down into the 60s, they switch over to, "It is so cold! Who knew it could get so cold? I mean, if we wanted to live in Siberia, we should've stayed in New York!" (Huh??)
I think that the main reason why we Members of the Tribe constantly spout our displeasure is because we believe we've had it harder than anyone else. For thousands of years, we've continuously been oppressed, depressed, plus, NOT blessed with good hair. As the "chosen" People, we consider it to be our G-d given right to complain. And complain we do.
Conversation-wise, once we've exhausted the usual subjects, like substandard food, erratic weather, politics (a shame about that Ed Koch), and our children (who don't call or visit as often as we'd like), we can always fill up time by complaining about our health. In my family, between my brother, sister and me, we've had cancer four times, so there's never a shortage of material (or competition). "You shouldn't know from the nausea I felt after my third round of chemo," can begin a typical conversation. Or, "You think your scars are big, you should see mine ..." And, "My hair came out in tufts all over my pillow!" "Hair? At least you had hair to lose! Me? I've been bald since college ..." Suffice it to say that if you're shooting the breeze with the Silver siblings and you want to talk about your eczema, you might as well save your breath. You'll never get a word in edgewise.
But no subject, not cancer, not a Category IV hurricane, not even the salmonella outbreak at the Bernstein Bar Mitzvah, gets our collective complaining going more than the timing of our holidays.
While Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday of November, and Christmas is always the 25th of December, the dates of Hanukkah are set to the Jewish lunar calendar, so they change every year. And according us, the arrival of the Festival of Lights falls into one of two categories. Too early. Or, too late.
Rarely is there a Goldilocks "just right," and this year, when I learned that Hanukkah would start on the night before Thanksgiving, I freaked out. I mean, how on earth could I be expected to pull off the necessary preparations required to simultaneously celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah?" Doing so would require a bigger miracle than the tiny drop of oil lasting eight days and nights!
Turns out, despite my initial misgivings, everything miraculously got done. Meals were made, menorahs lit, gifts were given and dirty laundry of adult-age children was washed and folded (in hopes that they will visit more often). In fact, I found that things seemed to go more smoothly than they had when I had weeks longer to prepare. Who knows? Maybe as writer, I naturally work better on a tight deadline.
So now, get this. With my shopping and cooking and hostessing duties already behind me, here we are just one week into December, and I am free as a bird to do what I please with no looming sense of responsibility or guilt!
That's right. Having successfully made it through the once-in-my-lifetime, crazy-early, initially stressful (but now-over) occurrence known as Thanksgivukkah, I am happy to report that finally, I have nothing to complain about.
Layla Ann Silver is a freelance writer who, now that Thanksgivukkah is over, will be spending the next three weeks going to the movies, out for Chinese food, and hanging out by the fire with a bottle of wine while watching back-to-back episodes of "House Hunters." She looks forward to hearing your comments (and complaints) at: email@example.com.