“What’s your favorite holiday?” I was asked just days ago. It was a reasonable question, what with the confluence of today’s feasts. My answer was less than serious because frankly, I don’t like this year’s overlap.

I hear one more time about Thanksgivukkah and I’ll vomit. Cute the word isn’t, (except to mahj wives and merchants), and though pretending to celebrate, it diffuses each festival. If assimilation of our people was bad, could assimilation of our holidays be better? Whatever. ‘Tis for a greater mind than mine.

I DO like holidays, though, and savor the well-defined memories each bring…

Growing up Bogart, Chanukah meant eight nights of candles enveloped by eight days dodging grease from our Grandma’s Cleveland Heights frying pan. She’d chop her onions, cut her potatoes and letting lard fly, she’d fry latkehs of a generation gone by. No one, remarkably, lost an eye.

(Ed. Note 1: Some time in the late 50’s, at least for H and me, the holiday “jumped the shark”. Instead of eight eves of small gifts for the boys —think crayons or a Baseball Digest—the still-wed parents got us one BIG gift. There was a bike, I remember, semi-hidden in our front door area. It was never the same, looking back. The miracle of Chanukah took eight days, not one night).

And speaking of eight nights, how about that Passover? As joyous as the Festival Of Lights may be, the advent of a light burning extra-long pales greatly to the parting of one Red Sea. I mean really!  think about it.

Not that Hal and I ever discussed those things. Indeed, Pesach “in the day” meant two lengthy Seders on two endless nights. (Great) Grandpa Sam’s one night, Grandma Bogart’s the next, and sometimes, I swear, we went from one to the other. (Ed. Note 2: 63’s Seder at Grandma Bogart’s ended early when our father announced that there was a Little League managers meeting that night. “You’ve ruined the evening”, said Aunt Helen.)

Grandpa Sam’s home was walking distance from shul. Must have been forty people jammed in his living room each Pesach, all sitting in contiguous tables joined at right angles so that, (spiritually at least), we were all one tableau. (Ed. Note 3: The table configuration was such that ironically it resembled an aerial view of a swastika).

Grandma’s meal was much simpler. Mother and father, H-ie and me, Grandma, Aunt Helen. We each took turns reading, (Ed. Note 4: Mom got the English), and while our Dad’s oft-off melodies had his sons laughing, he never quite minded. (Ed. Note 5: Our grandmother did. “Boys!” she would shry as obliviously Big Al’d speed through “Ki Lo Naeh”).

Those were special days, growing up. Holidays held memories—still do…

One year at my Grandpa’s I found the afikoman. They gave me a dollar. I couldn’t have been ten.

“Let me hold it for you,” urged Grandma Celia. “You’ll lose it.” “OK”, said I. (Ed. Note 6: The next time I would see that bill would be years later—at my rehearsal dinner no less—in Passaic, New Jersey. “If I’d have given it to you any of those other times you asked for it you’d have spent it by now,” she pronounced.)

Reminiscence of Chanukah’s often sensory—

The light of the candles…their smell…the standing with Hal, adjacent to Albert, reciting the prayers… Singing not only “Rock Of Ages” but “Ma Tzur”… Knowing that even as he sang our father was listening—to us, his boys.

And so it is that on this snowy day, embracing memories distinct for each Yom Tov, I wish them not muddled.

Thanksgiving is America, and turkey, and football. And all of it’s good. My gratitude’s daily, not annual—

(At least when I’m on my game).  Just sayin’.

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