Celebrating the Everlasting Lights

By Fields, Suzanne | Insight on the News, December 23, 1996 | Go to article overview

Celebrating the Everlasting Lights


Fields, Suzanne, Insight on the News


Everyone loves the holidays. Or tries to love them. It's the best of times, it's the worst of times.

For college freshmen, this may be their first trip home. Homesickness mixed with budding wisdom makes for fragile egos. Quoting Aristotle or Kant doesn't go over big with Uncle Harry who never went to college. The new vegetarian who wants tofu turkey and bean sprouts instead of a goose must collect his own culinary supplies at the health-food store. (He simply doesn't get it when we ask him how he can wear leather jackets and shoes.)

Family reunions require shock absorbers. Purple hair, even on the son who plays in a rock band, is passe. A jewel stud on a male earlobe no longer stigmatizes -- or symbolizes -- much of anything. A bare midriff exposing a gold ring piercing the belly button is pushing it, but a nose ring should send the wearer to a circus.

Grandma (and most of the rest of us) can't help asking why these children want to look barbaric when they can be bourgeois and enjoy the good life. Answer: Most of them live the good life; they simply pretend they don't.

Sleeping arrangement can be tricky. Who gets assigned what room is the business of the host and hostess or the mom and pop. After that they have to mind their own business. Discretion is the better part of manners. Intimate questions require private conversations and table talk, like table wine, requires a sagacious nose.

It's reassuring to most of us that the Judeo-Christian holidays are fused in December, but this year Hanukkah arrived early and Jewish children who got presents for seven days suffer the Christmas blues as their Christian friends celebrate with presents under the tree. At least the Jewish kids don't have to eat fruitcake.

Yes, family gatherings have their ups and downs, but usually the ups prevail. The shy college graduate who finally brings home a fiance stops being "singled out" by relatives. …

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