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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Baby's First (Cognizant) Christmas

It ain't Rockefeller Center, but it's the best we got (Jerusalem YMCA)

Getting all geared up for the big day!

It's actually her third Christmas, but this is the first time that Raia has any conscious grasp of the holiday. For her first Christmas, Raia was 6 weeks old, smaller than a stocking and was still supposed to be en utero another three weeks. Hence, she was oblivious to anything but milk.

Raia spent her second Christmas suffering from jet and baby lag as we celebrated in NY having arrived a week before. Christmas was more like an appetizer for Zemmy's (Zia Em) wedding than a holiday in itself that year. And Raia slept through the main part of the day which includes opening the presents that awaited us under the tree.

But this year was different. Preemie no longer, Raia now manages several spheres of influence in the world. And thus she was all ready for Christmas this time around.

It all started with decorating the tree. She didn't just participate, she owned the tree decorating. She hung dozens of ornaments (on the same three branches) while Lucas and I grew bored and tried to break them.

Then she fully dove into our Christmastime tradition of watching The Little Drummer Boy every night before bed. We line up on the sofa for our mini-movie and repeat words like "frankincense" and "crystalline." Afterwards, Raia stands, bundles up her blanket in her arms, turns to the tree and says, "G'night Christmas." And she heads to bed.

Raia also vociferously participated in making gingerbread cookies this year. Mommy, trying (and failing) to outsmart us, attempted to take us separately to cut and decorate our own cookies in order to mitigate a disaster while enhancing our fine motor skills. However, Raia was present for each cutting and decorating session, impossible to extricate from the kitchen. Every cookie has her fingerprints.

I was chosen and anointed by God to place the star atop the tree

He was jealous

Nevertheless, we are working against the tide regarding holiday spirit. While you in the West are wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and angling to leave work early on Christmas Eve, we - 3 miles from the very birth of Jesus - have zero sense that the holiday is lurking out there auspiciously on the calendar. Tomorrow.

It is a regular work week here. There is no wind-down to vacation. No lights on the apartment buildings. No music in the stores. It's all a bit anticlimactic.

And as Lucas noted, "There's no snow!" Yes, welcome to the Middle East, my son.

In fact, tomorrow is a full-on day of normalcy including schools and shops operating an open house at a school my parents must check out for us for the future (registration begins in no time for next year).

Hence, and since we are all still babies to some extent lacking in cognizance of calendar days, we shall officially declare Friday Christmas Eve and Saturday - Shabbat and a day of hushed traffic and shuttered shops in Jerusalem - Christmas! And we babies shall be none the wiser!

Every day for us babies is like the movie Groundhog Day. Whether a holiday or a weekend, we arise in utter darkness at 6, the latest. We don't know sleeping in and we don't know calendar dates. As far as we are concerned, you rally us to get ready for school or you don't. And then, for mysterious reasons, such as "the weekend" or "holidays," we stay home.

So we would have no idea if holidays were on a certain day. Christmas could be in July. You say it, we believe it.

But most importantly, in an effort to ease her guilt at faulty parenting and to ensure that we have the right idea of what's going on here, mommy randomly asks us why we celebrate Christmas or who was born on Christmas. To which, (to her relief) we answer, "Jesus!" Whew.

So as we prepare to celebrate, Merry Shabbat and Christmas Shalom!

1 comment:

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