Jewish Christmas

 

Aside from the usual holiday pressures and obligations, most of them involving some form of gotta buygotta buy presents, gotta buy Chanukah candles, gotta buy a tree (yep, that’s what happens when you marry a shiksa)–there’s also been the dawning realization, further provoked by the season, that I need to find a better way to support all these obligations. Simply put, my cobbled together income of writing, editing and pokering is not getting the job done (the reasons for which really require a blog entry unto itself ). In not getting the job done, I am slowly coming to the conclusion that “getting a job” may be the only actual solution to the problem, i.e.  I need some kind of steady income-producing work and I need it pretty much yesterday. As you may surmise from the title of this blog–Free Alson!–what I am doing here is not really helping with the rent.

Before I go much further, however, let me vent a bit. Chanukah candles. Goddamn fucking Chanukah candles. Can they maybe order a few more in the stores around my neighborhood next year? Please! I went, I swear, to half a dozen drugstores and supermarkets and every single fucking one of them was sold out! Same exact thing happened last year. Do they not get it? Is it a conspiracy? Do they just hate the Jews? There must be more Jews in the West Village than there are in Jerusalem. Can we please get a few more candles? Does any of the Christmas stuff ever sell out? Are the Christmas shelves ever bare? Have you ever been unable to buy an ornament? Or find out the tinsel is gone? I don’t think so. At the Gristedes, last hope on my futile mission, the African American kid at the checkout counter yelled up at the manager in his perch, “Yo, we got any more of those Jewish candles around?”

I already knew the answer. Thanks a lot, yo.

So our menorah is sporting some swell leftover birthday candles. You gotta a problem with that? I mean, is God really gonna know the freaking difference? Does he even care about Chanukah? It’s kind of a sweet holiday but it’s not really big time in a religious sense, is it? I don’t even really know what it signifies. I mean, I think it has to do with the festival of lights and the oil lasting a lot longer than it was supposed to and the rededication of the Temple of the Maccabees and a few other things of that nature, but it’s really pretty sketchy overall as far as I’m concerned. I do like our menorah, though. It’s pretty.

Speaking of which, who doesn’t like a Christmas tree? When I was a kid I wanted a tree more than anything. Every year I’d be sad because my mom wouldn’t let me have one. She may not have been a practicing Jew, but that didn’t mean she was going to get me a tree. Her mother would have had a conniption if she did, for crying out loud. So the tree was not open for discussion. But now, married as I am to a Catholic, we get a tree every year. And I love it. I love the smell, I love the way it looks. I love the ritual of decorating it.

The only thing I don’t love? The freaking fortune the tree shysters charge for a temporary six-foot-high decoration that will turn brittle in a couple of weeks and then leave an impossible-to-clean trail of pine needles on the carpeted steps when you drag the thing out to the curb Jan 1. For a Jew on a budget, I guess it’s nothing more than appropriate karmic punishment. But seriously, $100 bucks for a scrawny tree? Are you fucking kidding me? And that doesn’t even include delivery (yeah, I carried it home, myself).

And so this carol of holiday cheer and good tidings concludes: I’m hoping for a job in my Christmas stocking. Or at least not a lump of coal. And if anybody knows where a bad Jew can get some Chanukah candles for next year, give me a heads up.

Seasons Greetings, yo!

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About Peter Alson

Peter Alson is a writer and editor. Among his published books are the memoirs Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie and Take Me to the River. He's also co-authored (with Nolan Dalla) One of a Kind, a biography of poker champion Stuey Ungar, and Atlas, the autobiography of boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas. His articles have appeared in many national magazines, including Esquire, Playboy and The New York Times. He has worked as a writer for People magazine, and as an editor for Playboy and for Hachette Publications. He has written screenplays for Paramount and various independent producers, and his TV pilot, Nicky’s Game, starring John Ventimiglia and Burt Young, appeared in the New York Television Festival and the Vail Film Festival. As a poker player he has finished in the money numerous times in the World Series of Poker and other events. He lives in New York with his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Eden.
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2 Responses to Jewish Christmas

  1. Susie Seligson says:

    Peter, I love this. Same deal in Brookline, home of all the Jews who don’t live in New York and Jerusalem. Ever since that first Greater Boston-wide hunt after he bought me a beautiful old menorah, my Irish Catholic guy wants to hoard the candles. They pop up on the supermarket shelves in early November and he gets all excited: Grab ’em! Buy two! Buy ’em all!

    xo
    Susie

    Like

  2. Stephen Mailer says:

    Hah! Funny stuff, Pete!

    Like

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