Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … Carols & Chinese Food?

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I guess you can now relax and enjoy the rest of the year since Thanksgiving and Chanukah are in the rearview mirror.


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Except the holiday season, or “silly season” as I call it, is still very much upon us, and there’s plenty to do, although I’ve gotten the house decorated so at least that’s off my holiday “to do” list.


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It always makes me laugh that a nice Jewish girl dresses her hallway bear in a Santa outfit.


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I’m sorry, but Santas, reindeer, and snowmen aren’t religious. They’re seasonal. It’s fun and festive and makes the house feel warm and cozy.


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Christmas carols are seasonal as well, and you cannot escape them as they seem to be non-stop, which drives me crazy. Although I laugh when I think about their “Jewish connection”.


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What are you talking about?


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The fact that some of the most beloved Christmas carols were written by Jews. Songs like “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” and “Silver Bells.” Even “The Christmas Song” was written by a Jew.


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Leave it to you to make that connection. But you’re right. And probably the most famous of them all – “White Christmas” – had music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. I love that song and the movie with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, which is a holiday classic.


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Even “Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Baby” were written by Jews. But, since many of the great songwriters were Jewish, it is only logical that they wrote songs for holidays.


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True. Irving Berlin also wrote the music for “Easter Parade,” another one of my favorite movies. He’s one of the great American songwriters, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a song for every holiday. Although they aren’t religious songs.


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He did write “God Bless America.” But, the Christmas carols written by Jews are not religious. They are about the spirit of the holiday and the season. No lyrics about “shopping until you’re dropping” or “buy yourself a merry little Christmas.”


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It was a different time, and well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I wonder what they’d write today, especially given the seemingly endless TV commercials and non-stop emails!


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It may have been a very different time, but the Christmas season has always been the most critical time of year for retailers.


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Please don’t make this a business analysis of the holidays.


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Which is precisely the problem. It has become so commercialized that it has lost its meaning. It is supposed to be about people. And celebration. And traditions.


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Says the woman who doesn’t even like to celebrate Thanksgiving or her birthday.


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I do not like the forced sense of celebration and all the craziness. But, when I was married, and then again when your girls were growing up, I loved watching the excitement of children during the holidays.


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The girls have always loved this time of year, and although Natasha’s now living in England, when Sawyer gets home from college, she’ll be ready to celebrate. And create new holiday memories with her friends.


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We all have holiday memories.


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Even you? I can’t wait to hear this.


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I am sure you have heard this before. I was about five and in the hospital with pneumonia when a gentleman dressed as Santa was delivering gifts. When he came to my bed, I refused the gift telling him I was Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas. Imagine my surprise when he leaned over, pulled his fake white beard away from his face, and whispered in my ear, “It’s ok, so am I.”


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No doubt it was one of the doctors on staff. Leave it to you to find a Jewish Santa.


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Obviously, it is a favorite holiday memory as it has stayed with me all these years. For me, it is the spirit of the holiday. He was doing for others. And, probably allowing some other doctor to be home with his family.


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Careful, you’re beginning to sound warm and fuzzy. Although, that’s what the holidays are about. Memories and traditions.


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They go together like … Christmas and Chinese food.


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I know that connection! Although it’s been years, that YouTube video of Justice Elena Kagan at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing is still one of the funniest things you’ve ever sent me. When she was asked where she was at Christmas and replied, “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant,” I laughed out loud and shook my head in agreement.


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She replied without any hesitation, and it was hilarious and probably true.


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We save that tradition for New Year’s Eve. We place a huge Chinese take-out order, watch some of our favorite movies, and then try to stay awake until midnight.


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We all have our holiday traditions. Except for one year (thanks, COVID), I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with Diana and John for as long as I can remember.


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The holidays are about time with family and friends and being grateful for all you have. And I think we should close out this year by wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2022.


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In the words of Irving Berlin, “Happy Holiday.”

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock

Are you taking the Dry January challenge and not having any alcohol for the month? Or, maybe you plan to drink less (but not nothing), which makes it Damp January. Or, maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. (If so, there’s still time to start!)

Well, nothing much has changed from our approach to Dry January last year, except the one who had started drinking more last year is continuing the trend …



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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK , started Dry January , where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
Keep Reading ...Show less

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It’s January, and everyone’s probably tired of reading about New Year’s resolutions.

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Not me. Since I never make them, I never feel the need to read about them.

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Of course, you don’t. So, what should we write about?

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How about that we celebrate some of our favorite things in January?

So many “National Days” in January are fun (we’ve written about them over the years) and remind us of some of our favorite things. (Can you pick which are Red’s favorite holidays and which are Black’s?) And whether or not you make resolutions, it’s always important to have a sense of humor and enjoy the simpler things in life …

Answer: Red’s favorites are Bagels, Popcorn, and Hugging. Black’s are Clean Desk, Bagels, and Backward.

Wishing you Happy 2024 – with new beginnings and much more!