I’m not ripping folks for inquiring. We’ve been conditioned to do these sorts of things—myself included. We ask “So … where will you be spending Thanksgiving?” until Thanksgiving. Then we pause for 24 hours. Then we ask, “How was your Thanksgiving?” That lasts for, oh, two days, until the steam clears. Then we start up with, “Happy holidays!” and “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Chanukah!”—which always strike me as odd things to say, because no matter how many times I hear, “Happy Chanukah!” the words play no true role in making my Chanukah happy or sad. Hence, if saying, “Happy Chanukah!” doesn’t equal a happy Chanukah, what’s the point?
Answer: What the hell else are we supposed to say?
I actually pay close attention to November-December banter. It fascinates me. The words, yes, but also the looks on faces as someone answers the inquiry, “So … where will you be spending Thanksgiving?” It’s a glassy face sort of thing. Like, you asked, therefore you have to listen to the reply—even though you don’t really want to listen to the reply. Hence, we end up with a lot of this:
Person 1: “So … where will you be spending Thanksgiving?”
Person 2: “We go to my Grandma Ellie’s every year.”
Person 1: “Oh, that’s good.”
Person 2 (Now 100 percent required to reciprocate): “Yeah. What will you be doing?”
Person 1: “My husband cooks a big turkey, and our families come over, and …” (Now, by now everyone’s pretty f*cked. Person 1 didn’t wanna ask about Thanksgiving in the first place. Person 2 didn’t want to answer. However, since Person 2 did answer, Person 1 now feels the need to answer, too. And Person 1 certainly doesn’t care what Person 1 is doing. He just asked to be polite)
I actually think, growing up as a Jew in a closed-minded 99 percent Christian town, my out was a pretty good one. Someone would ask what I was doing for the holidays.
“I’m Jewish,” I’d reply—and that was pretty much that. Most of the residents knew about three Jews; certainly didn’t know that we didn’t accept Jesus Christ as our lord and savior. It was just messy and confusing, so instead of engaging, they’d mumble, “Chaka Kahn” or something and slink away.