It’s a grand confluence of holidays. A mishmash of events. Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will not align perfectly on the calendar again for another thousand years. Our wedding anniversary on the 28th of November only collides with Thanksgiving every six or seven years in a perfect storm of too-much-to-celebrate-in-one-day. It all happened at once like the coming of Haley’s Comet (only far more rare than that) yesterday.
Robyn comes up with the word. “We’re not Jewish,” I point out to her. She already knows we’re not Jewish, of course. But she says Hanukkah is not an exclusive holiday. Everyone can share in it. I didn’t know that. I also don’t understand how a yamulke perched at an impossible angle manages to stay on a person’s head or what’s going on with the very traditional hats that seem so formal and old school or exactly what a dreidel might be. There’s a lot I don’t know. Clearly.
On CNN, a Jewish man who has a birthday on Thanksgiving this year celebrates Thanksbirthukkah. Robyn thinks this is a nice try. But she expects her new word to appear in a standard dictionary next year while Thanksbirthukkah fades quickly from memory.
It’s dangerous business to combine so many holidays. One may not be given its full due. We’ve been married 16 years, and our instinct is to celebrate our anniversary in a small intimate way. Thanksgiving is designed to be shared by as many relatives as you can possibly cram into one house with one large table and a kids table set up in another noisier room where a vacuum cleaner will be needed later to Hoover up stray kernels of corn.
We have given it all up to Thanksgiving some years while our anniversary seemed to take place without much hoopla. Respect the turkey. Other times we have skipped or slighted Thanksgiving to make a big deal out of our anniversary. Respect the marriage. Some years we are lucky, and Thanksgiving falls a week apart from our anniversary and they both get their due without a Sophie’s Choice angst entering into it. A perfect union.
My father was born on December 26 — the day after Christmas. While our anniversary and Thanksgiving rarely are celebrated on the same exact day, my dad is always doomed to celebrate his birthday with leftover eggnog and tinsel.
As a child, he hated the confluence of celebrations. Here’s your birthday/Christmas gift, people told him. Enjoy! Multipurpose wide receivers who also function as quarterbacks like Kordel Stewart may sometimes achieve great success in life as a Slash. But my dad is not a fan of slashes. I feel his pain.
We chucked the traditional family Thanksgiving this year, leaving New York City and it’s parade to spend the weekend in Key West. We didn’t join my wife’s parents in Kure Beach, NC or my parents in a big Thanksgivapalooza in Asheville, NC where snow fell just on cue at my grandparent’s house with my aunt and uncle and cousins and their children.
The high today is 78 degrees, and it will reach the lower 80s in each of the next two days while we’re here in Florida. We expect to drive just a mile or two to the southern-most point in the United States today.
I’ve been looking at New York City through a pair of thick rose-colored goggles, loving its weirdness and magnificent tallness. Overlooking its harsh climate and extremes of wealth and poverty. But lately there are cracks in my carefully constructed utopian vision of the sprawling metropolis.
I got a clear picture of a subway rat just this Wednesday on my iPhone. He seemed more insolent than elusive. He skittered away, but there was an arrogance about him that marked him as a product of the Big Apple.
On the platform in Brooklyn waiting for the D Train to arrive Wednesday I actually had to “turn my collar to the cold and damp” to get my face out of a chilly drizzle just like in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.” I managed to avoid taking comfort in the “whores on Seventh Avenue.”
One of the best things about living in New York City is leaving the cold and damp city behind for a bit. When I tweet this out on Twitter, it is quickly “favorited,” which I understand is the Facebook equivalent of “Liked.”
We make it to our hotel by 6 p.m. after flying into Fort Lauderdale and driving three hours to Key West. There’s a hammock at the finish line on a dock in the dark. We take turns taking pictures of each other in it before all three of us crowd into the hammock for a few minutes of blissful rest. Our 15-year-old son Avery is bigger than each of us. But we all cram in somehow.
A singer plays The Beatles “Eight Days a Week,” at a local bar as I meander around for just a bit to explore Key West. This is perfect. Thanksgivukkahversary, which can only happen every thousand years or so, should be celebrated naturally on the eighth day of the week.
On the day before we leave New York, I am sitting with a guy I work with who has his share of challenges. He wants to know something. “Do doggies know it’s Thanksgiving, Kevin?” I thought they would struggle with the concept of a holiday and told him so.
He nodded. But he wasn’t quite ready to let it go at that. “Maybe a doggie psychologist or a scientist who studies doggie’s brains would know for sure,” he says. “Maybe,” I say, just to be agreeable.
Even if a dog could somehow grasp the concept of Thanksgiving, I’m certain Thanksgivukkahversary would escape his powers.