There has been a lot of discussion in our household lately about the history of the two major religions that intersect here. Twice a year, sometimes three times, these things come up more often than they usually do. There was a time when there was some acrimony, with Rob blaming me for the ubiquity of Christmas and me demanding, shrieking even, to know why Sephardic Jews can eat rice during Passover but Ashkenazi Jews cannot, thus leaving us with 10 very difficult days of dining together.
That’s subsided. Some traditions have been acccepted, some renounced, but one truth remains: in our household, the Jew sleeps late. He sleeps through the discovery of Santa’s bounty every year, and has to be roused for stockings and the rest of the gifts, and he resolutely refuses to participate in any way in the Easter bunny (although he will eat the egg salad). And I, convinced that the cause was a combination of simmering resentment over Christians having co-opted all the really good pagan rituals and lingering guilt from life with a father who, it’s been claimed, would not allow them to give valentines (because it’s Saint Valentine’s Day). (And, just as an aside, I don’t believe that last one anymore, because I got in terrible trouble with my mother-in-law one year when the kids didn’t send cards).
Anyway, recently I’ve become suspicious. I do not think this has anything at all to do with religion, or guilt. I think it has to do with sleep.
The Jews, you may have noticed, do not have any traditions which involve getting up at ungodly hours with small, overexcited children. It does not happen for Passover, or Rosh Hashanah, or even Purim, which was once presented to me as the “fun” children’s holiday, and which I can see probably was great fun, in the tenements of New York City as re-created in All-of-a-Kind-Family, but of which I have never, ever, not once, met a single adult Jew who recalls it as a highlight of the year). Even Hanukah, you may have noticed, includes gifts (a relatively recent addition to the tradition) given at night.
I rest my case.