Yiddishe Chrisgiving

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Nicole R. Zimmerman’s article, “Finding Hanukkah” (Dec. 4) brought a smile to my face, and in this season of sharing, I thought I’d share one of my fondest memories.

It was about five years ago when my Christmas, my partner’s Hanukkah and our mutual Thanksgiving made for a perfect storm of a celebration.

We have dear friends in England, a family of five: Mum, Dad, two teen boys and a 7-year-old princess, who were coming to visit us at Christmas. They had two requests:

“Would it be possible to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner?” Sure! But the next ask, as it turned out, was not so easy-peasy.

Said Mum, “The turkey needs to be kosher, is that okay?” Ohhhhhkay.

So, off I traipsed to Safeway. Nada. Raley’s. Zip. Lucky. Nada. Petaluma Market. Bupkis. As a last resort, I tried Whole Foods. The butcher said, “We don’t carry them, but we can special order one for you.” Done!

The day came for the pick-up and the cost—oy vey!—was a combo of Whole Foods’ premium pricing + a bird practically as rare as the dodo = ka-ching! Hey, it’s only money!

As the resident roast-turkey maven, my partner cooks only twice a year—Thanksgiving and Christmas—and he does it incredibly well, including excellent stuffing, gravy and a killer sweet potato casserole. I do the rest.

Dinner was terrific … for our Brit buddies, just “meh” for us. Kosher does not always mean top quality in a frozen turkey. We’ve since learned that most “early birds” in the market freezer have been recycled from the year before. Apparently, our yiddishe turkey was not exactly a “spring chicken” either.

But it didn’t matter. The joy in sharing our bounty with good friends at “Chrisgiving,” as we dubbed it, is what makes these times so special.

Happy Holidays to all! (You too, Donald!)

Bob Canning

Petaluma

Imagine

As John Lennon sings, “So this is Christmas,” I look at our workaday consumer world and the state of environmental reality 2019 and consider “and what have you (we) done?”

With ever-increasing extreme weather, fires, droughts, ocean life and level changes, I question the impacts of what seems to be excessive consumerism on those we are trying to express our love to.

I question the idea that new, improved “whatevers” will somehow make everybody’s lives better and suggest that we may be being both too humancentric, and mistaken. Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg is the Time Person Of The Year, while our President Tweet Tweets … and the bankers tabulate profits and the coral reefs are in big trouble. One look at the trash cans on every street on the days after could be a clue.

“And so this is Christmas,” which now begins at Halloween and juggernauts through the media frenzy of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, “get it NOW, on sale, free shipping”, and the illusory and mythic “everything is better with new stuff” dream.

Are we perhaps stressed, burdened by expectations, buying stuff we don’t really need, on credit with money we don’t have and leaving landfills where life once lived?

“And so this is Christmas,” and with the spirit of goodwill and love for all beings, are our purchases and gifts creating or adding to a living and healthy planet for the future lives of those to whom we’re expressing our love and caring? Are we “buying locally” and supporting local businesses or sending our $ off to Internet Land? And what of the rest of plant and animal life? Are we improving the air, water, soil, or diversity of life through our purchases, or leaving toxic wastelands?

“And so this is Christmas.” Yes, our clothes and things do wear out, but what are the true costs and future effects of our consumerism? Are we sharing with friends, family, community and connecting with each other, or spending time in undisturbed non-humanized living Nature? All the shiny new “stuff” can feel just as empty as a bottle on the day after.

Do we consider who made whatever we are buying, what remains of or in the environments which manufactured it? How long will it last, and can it be repaired or reused?

When you look at a pile of wrapped presents under a tree, do you see infinite possibilities, smiling happy faces, children jumping with gleeful excitement? Do you see the landfills, the clear cuts, the toxic remains of the mining and smelting and manufacturing? Do you see the mountains of designed-to-break products which are too-quickly obsolete, or just “out of style”?

“And so this is Christmas.” May we be healthy, happy and support living environments.

Sierra Salin

Fairfax

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