February 19th, 2016

(no subject)

I'm not opening my doors to people who don't understand my traditions for a bit. I need a break from my holy days being other people's 101. And also from my holy days being other people's cultural improvement projects. My Chanukah and Purim and Rosh Hashanah are not like a wedding, where friends can offer handy suggestions based on their own wedding experience. They're more like a private and quiet family Christmas, where everyone does things as they always have. My festivals are ancient celebrations where a bunch of things that look random have meaning. One of the things that has happened in the last two years is people who do not ask about meaning, but proceed to change things and even to over-rule what I do. In my own home. For my own good.

Now, I make changes anyway. This is the nature of culture. It's too hard to keep kosher, for instance, under my current circumstances, so I've chosen food tradition over food law. My culture, though, my choice. The person who 'improved' a chicken soup recipe by adding butter (and explained afterwards) and the person who brought a couple of friends "Because it's a party" and then everyone who was brought was embarrassed because it wasn't just pretend-Jewish it was actual Jewish, and the friend who really wanted me to get a Christmas tree ("I've seen them in US Jewish homes") ... all the things. Death of a culture by a thousand small cuts. This kind of thing is one reason I tend to explode around festival time. It's never easy and some people (not my close friends, who 'get' it and are warm and supportive) make me feel as if non-Jews have more of a right to determine how Jews celebrate than Jews do.

Anyhow, this year I get my revenge. I will only hold an intimate Purim party, even though almost everyone loves Purim. What's not to love? although last year it was suggested that compulsory drunkenness was a bad thing and I should stop it, and that being satirical about our holy books was not something I should do because it's disrespectful, and that men really weren't suited to cross dressing and why weren't there latkes, for everyone knows Jews eat latkes for every festival? A small party only, because this year, just this year, the shoe's on the other foot. Purim is near the end of Lent. I have Christian friends. I'll let them choose if they want to celebrate and how much they want to celebrate. They won't change what I do (for they're kind) but I won't change what they do for Lent, either.

Also, this is the night before the time when, historically, Jews were confined to their homes and rocks were thrown at them (commonly known as Easter) so there will be an extra whiff of "They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat" and one that's not at all comfortable for anyone with European Christian heritage. So many reasons for a small celebration only.

If you want to visit me for Purim, let me know. We will do the whole shebang. There will be a megillah (the full megillah! But Gillian's version, in English) and there will be mishloach manot. And either hamantaschen or oznei haman.

And anyone who tries to change my tradition will be barred from the gates of heaven for posterity. Also, if there is a wild cry "This is not fair!" I will be willing to host a BYO room party version of the above during NatCon, subject to the agreement of the friend who is sharing my accommodation.

I need to consider what this means.

It means that I'm miffed about people who say "Let me improve things - look I know your stuff" rather than asking "What is this? What do you do?" I'm tired of belonging to the cultural group that others see as a home improvement project.

I could just get drunk alone that night (for it's a mitzvah to get drunk) but if a couple of people want to drop in and help me, we'll cook the food and they can make much noise to drown out the name of the villain and we can all be (drunken) children. There won't be a public invitation, though. I'm only going to invite a few people, and all of them will have already proven they can respect my customs. I'm battening my hatches and manning my whatever-needs-manning and I'm in cultural survival mode.

If any of you want the Gillian version of the Purim story again I'm happy to post it here. I'm also happy to post a couple of traditional recipes. Everyone can still celebrate (except those who are in penitential mode, over Lent). I just don't want anyone to 'improve' me and 'make it more fun' this time round.