and in another 70,043 years I may repeat this post

the Menurkey
My usual Thanksgiving post is a sum-up of customs that develop in people's families and embraces the multi-cultural. This year, the Gregorian calendar has taken a hint from me, and embraces the multi-cultural as well. In case anyone's been living in a cave waiting for peace to break out, in the year 2013 CE, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving (U.S.) occurred on the same day. And in case you haven't been taking good notes while reading previous posts, I grew up in a multi-cultural family, and while noone would have considered our high school's student body multi-cultural, the teachers were a fairly assorted lot and some had had adventurous lives before settling for gallant attempts to mold young minds as they trudged into their sunset years. So here's a multi-cultural holiday story, and Happy Star-Crossed Confluence to us all.

My mom grew up in a home where there was always, if not a spare room, then an extra bed. The tradition was honored by her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc, and if you can swing it, an extra space for the unexpected is a good thing, and we always had room or made room.

One year we had unexpected company from Ireland. Mike (not his real name, of course) was a silent young man who'd been passed on to us by some organization or other, where someone believed that he'd find our home peaceful and restful for a few days, while they decided what to do with him. He kept to himself, didn't impose on the telephone, didn't use up all the hot water, uncritically ate what was put before him… "He'd be a good example to certain people's relatives," said mom, giving pop A Look. So when it turned out that it might take a little more time to find him a job and an apartment, noone objected. Mom thought he might benefit from some social life, but he said he was happy just to read and watch television and relax. However, when friends invited us to their Hanukkah celebration (presents! doughnuts! candy! food!), we insisted that if he was going to make things work in America, he needed exposure to more of America than he was seeing from our extra room, and we told him he'd love Sylvia and Milt and their relatives. After repeatedly insisting that he'd never want to impose, Mike said he'd be delighted.

Sylvia and Milt loved telling the Hanukkah story, with a fresh face in the crowd they enthusiastically recounted how two Israelite groups revolted against an occupying force that had held their country in servitude for hundreds of years, how the revolt was successful, and how the lamps they lit to mark their success in the rededication of the Temple were lit with a small amount of oil that miraculously lasted for 8 days. Mike had never heard the story, but had grown up with Celtic legends, tales of heroes, tales of improbable victories… He loved the story and was delighted to learn that it was historical fact. He asked if there were any other stories like that about the Holy Land. They told him the story of Judah Maccabbee, who led a small force against the oppressor's  army of 40,000 invaders, and won. Mike was entranced.

Sylvia's elderly cousin Al was inspired to talk about his service in the Israeli War of Independence, where a small group of determined volunteers brought a mighty British army to its knees. "Our Independence Day is May 14," he told Mike. "If you're around I'll buy you a drink."

Sylvia rebuked her menfolk: "In the Jewish religion we don't glorify war."

"No war is glorious," said Mike, "but some wars are necessary."

"Come sit over by me, son," said cousin Al.

Sylvia passed around some delicious little doughnuts. Al asked his grandson Bobby what he was learning in Hebrew School. "Masada," said Bobby. Sylvia groaned. Mike looked at Bobby and raised an eyebrow. Bobby told him how a group of Jewish rebels captured the fortress from the Roman garrison and how the rebels and some additional hold-outs then held out for months against the conquering Romans, how they withstood attacks, siege, mining… "and then they won!" cried Mike.

"No, Mike, they didn't. Rather than surrender, the rebels leapt from the cliffs and died."

Mike sat quietly for the rest of the evening. As we walked home, my dad asked him how he'd enjoyed his first Jewish holiday.

"Ah, come on. Those people are really Irish, right?"


  1. Very, very funny. Laughed out loud!

  2. excellent story Fred! happy thanksgiving!

  3. Hilarious Fred! Chuckling here and thanks for the laugh to start my day. Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. Husby is kicking me off the laptop, I'll be back to enjoy this and I have a post later to come back at you. :)

    1. Fred, I was at my ILs when I finished reading your post and laughed so loud they thought I was nuts. The best punch line ever.

      If you have a moment, come over and see what we saw as the sure sign of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving (U.S.) happening on the same day. :)

  5. Rumor has it that the Irish are in actuality
    the lost tribe of Israel.Wouldn't be a bit
    surprised if true.

  6. Your observations and writing are always so witty - hope you had a fab Turkey day weekend!


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