a breakfast serial

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Archive for December 5, 2012

jingle all the wu wei

< by Dave >

I have holiday memories and traditions just like anyone who celebrates Christmas with their family. Christmas for Jews hardly represents a Hallmark Moment™, however, the tradition of the day should not go overlooked.

Other than Chanukah — which sometimes overlaps with Christmas — there is one ritual, much like a Bar Mitzvah that is a rite of passage in modern Judaism, which occurs annually on December 25. The ritual of which I speak is the annual Jewish migration to Chinese restaurants and movie theaters, and it iterates itself in nearly identical fashion.

Unlike real Christmas, the first half of Jewish Christmas is utterly vacuous: Mom sits in front of the computer in her robe playing backgammon against her anonymous online doppelgänger, Dad becomes digital Lewis and Clark, discovering the vast expanses of the internet, often frantically calling me to explain why a pop-up is telling him he has a virus. For me, Christmas morning consists of sitting at the kitchen table in an old high-school shirt, sweatpants and the classic socks-and-sandals with an oversized bowl of what I wish were Fruit Loops, but are more likely Grape Nuts (great for regularity), with a huge mug of coffee. Any other activity would be sacrilegious — this day among days is meant for Kung Pao and Skyfall only.

Much as the stereotype would suggest, the restaurant my family patronizes is cram-packed full of Seinfeld-ian groups of dark/gray/not at all-haired men and far more diverse group of women. While propagating stereotypes is an awkward feeling, perhaps the stereotype reflects a hard truth. There are undoubtedly Hebrew gatherings at Indian and other Asian restaurants, yet Chinese restaurants seem to have a curious and otherwise unexplained stranglehold on the demographic, as the stereotype would suggest.

The glory of dinner is matched in scale by the lethargy to follow. No one in my family has made it through an entire movie (usually a choice so diplomatic that no one enjoys it) awake. And as the cast waddles to the car back home, Jewish Christmas comes to an end.

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Wu wei: “… an important concept in Taoism that literally means non-action or non-doing.”