Christmas in the Hamptons 2.0

Last winter was my first in New York.

Lonely is a bad state of mind to be in, and the bleak New York winters do [negative] wonders for loneliness. I was invited to spend the Christmas holiday — which historically for my family and me had meant Chinese food and a movie in suburban Detroit — in the Hamptons. Having never before been, I jumped at the opportunity. Peaceful it was not. Less than a full day after arriving, our would-be lovely holiday was cut short due to an impending blizzard.

I’ve since returned to my cousin’s home in Amagansett, but had planned to spend Christmas alone this year. Alone but not lonely.

The office was closed Friday. I spent the day cleaning, doing laundry, and eating. By nightfall, boredom — note: not loneliness — set in. Before bed, my cousin had text messaged me. Cue: loneliness.

I spent most of Saturday sleeping off my cold, and around 3 p.m., I had made the executive decision to take a 6:40 Jitney to Amagansett.

No regrets.

I arrived and imbibed — crisp white wine before bed.

This Christmas holiday has beyond made up for its predecessor. A lovely drive and walk about Montauk Point, a movie in East Hampton, and English-style breakfast for supper.

Neither alone, nor lonely.

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Hanukkah

Since May, I’ve experienced a lot of firsts. This weekend, I had my first family Hanukkah party in New York.

Growing up, Hanukkah celebrations were split. On my mom’s side, parties consisted of the Detroit-based relatives gathering at a cousin’s house, and having a grab bag of gifts for the kids. While I always enjoyed seeing family, I tended to leave disappointed, with a monogrammed keychain and bookstore gift card in-tow.

My father’s side was a tad more material, and so the celebrations reflected just that. My paternal first-cousins would gather at my dad’s parent’s house for a simple latke-laden dinner and what seemed like never-ending gifts. My dad’s parents had this tradition of giving each of their ten grandchildren a bag full of gifts, videotaping each grandchild as the gifts were revealed. As we aged [and they aged, too], we started to receive monetary gifts as opposed to particular items we had wished for. Instead of unveiling the gifts, we had to justify how we would spend our newly earned [being a Kirsch is not easy work!] money. My answers changed quickly from “I’ll buy some fuzzy stickers,” to, “I need to pay my part of the heating bill.” You see, mo’ money, mo’ problems.

My New York Hanukkah qualified, too, as its own breed of celebration. My cousin Molly is a gifted hostess. Her Manhattan apartment is perfect for entertaining, and somehow, she can turn it from living space to a venue within a moment’s (or a week’s) notice. I gathered with my cousins and extended family earlier in the day to assist with set up. Wrapping gifts, draining cucumbers and scallions from their marinade, and arranging the challah into serving dishes: cake walk. Navigating an apartment filled with people whom I’ve never met: interesting. My cousin boasted about my social media skills [I am ninja, read my tweets], and so I was approached by many of her business-owner friends with questions about my line of work, and how it can benefit them. Noshing on latkes, some delicious orzo salad, sipping on a personally mixed vodka lemonade (I should not go into mixology), and schmoozing with a variety of people, I truly enjoyed myself.

For those of you who are celebrating, I hope you are continuing to have a חג שמח!

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, Spooky, Scary [happy hanukkah, for real this time]

While my pre-Hanukkah blogified greeting was pretty nifty (thanks to Laura and her friend and their awesome cookies), my mind has been haunted as of late, thanks to my favorite show, 30 Rock.

From the creative mind of Tina Fey, and the unstable behavior of Tracy Morgan, I wish you all a very happy Hanukkah, with this clip of Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.

Inside Secrets of a Jewish Mother [partial book review]

I have a unique family. I have so many relatives within a one square-mile area that we had a float in our city’s Fourth of July parade called Dozens of Cousins. Some of my favorite memories involve weekly Friday night dinners at my Great Auntie Phyllis’ house, where she successfully piles 30+ people, week after week, stuffing them full of all things good and Jewish — from matzo ball soup to brisket. Surprisingly in-time for dinner, my Great Uncle comes home from the hospital — head-to-toe in surgical scrubs — to talk bones with some aching relation. He has an orthopedic practice with his three sons and one daughter-in-law. We sit, we eat, and we schmooze. This weekly gathering is nothing compared to Rosh Hashanah dinners, or Thanksgiving. Every dinner ends with my Great Aunt and her dear friend Mary-Joe hand-counting how many people came and how it differed from weeks and years in the past. This year’s holiday was different. Still lots of food and family, but my grandmother’s absence (she passed away last Thanksgiving) was a noticeable and uncomfortable void.

After my Bubby Cyrille’s death, Jewish holidays became difficult to celebrate, and I was dreading moving to New York to spend my first Rosh Hashanah away from home. I had an apartment, a job, and a reasonable amount of good friends from work. I even had family. My New York family is great, and incredibly hospitable, but no dynamic can possibly replace that of my Detroit roots.

On Rosh Hashanah, I was invited to dine with the delightful Wexler family. I had done some work with Lisa and her radio show in the past, and in a quick e-mail exchange, I had mentioned not having anywhere to go for the holiday. Like any good (and typical) Jewish mother, she insisted that I join her family. I hesitated responding at first, because while we had welcomed many a wandering friend into our home and my Auntie Phyllis’ over the years, I never thought I’d be in that position of need.

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