Dear James and Jackson:
I cannot believe you’ve been here for three months. Three months. It seems like just yesterday and a lifetime ago. You are both more than twice the size you were when you were born.
James, you eat like you are a linebacker. Jackson, you try to eat like you are a linebacker, but that pesky acid reflux keeps you from running your brother down. Regardless of this minor inconvenience, you are both gaining weight appropriately and are happy as can be. At least I tell myself you are, and you smile and laugh often enough not to convince me otherwise.
This is the holiday time of year. Hanukkah started the night before Thanksgiving this year. The Festival Of Lights got kind of lost amid the turkey and cornbread dressing, but we did manage to get this picture.
Your Grandpa Roy and Nanny Sandy came to visit, and it was great fun! I have to tell you … no one has a bad time when you’re around. Your Granny and Grandpa Jim made an excellent Thanksgiving dinner — perhaps you got a taste or two in your bottle. I have no idea how that all works … I have yet to taste one of your bottles.
You even went to your first Hanukkah party at our friends, the Bialoskys.
The day after Hanukkah ended, KK arrived! She was here for just over a week and boy did we get a lot done. And boy does your Mama have to learn how to take more pictures … because I did not get one of you with her this time.
While she was here we went and had this picture made:
Everyone says you don’t look happy … but the truth is, you were both perfectly content. You had never been out of your buckets in a mall before and between the strange fellow with the beard and all the other information to take in — James is looking right at KK with a look of, “Who is this guy?” and Jackson is in deep thought or trying to pass gas. It’s all a matter of interpretation.
After we took the Santa picture, KK and I took you with us to The Cheesecake Factory where James was fast asleep (until he woke up STARVING) and Jackson was fully awake, flirting with our waitress. The theory is, had Santa been a bubbly black woman named Renee, there would have been more smiling in the picture — at least for Jackson.
Child, you are going to break hearts. Your Mama must teach you how to do it gently. Very gently.
This week amidst all of the other things your Mama does, she found a few spare minutes to get the holiday card ready. Here is the end result:
Y’all are so damn cute, I can hardly stand it.
Some people might be confused by the Hanukkah shirts and the picture with Santa.
At three months of age, I am not going to get into a big philosophical discussion about religion and how your Mama may or may not interpret the rules. I wrote a little bit about this a few years ago here.
All I will say is I believe our interaction with God is a relationship not a religion. I believe it is personal. I believe it is ours and ours alone. Mine has been nonexistent, overtly religious, spiritual, completely doubting and everything in between.
If I can teach you that having the relationship means — if you’re anything like your Mama — you will have a crisis of faith; perhaps several. I will have done one of my many jobs as a mother.
All the other rules and regulations are just that — rules and regulations.
As with most things in life, I believe you should learn all said rules and regulations so you can know exactly what you’re breaking; but more importantly I want you to learn and be curious about the history of it all. I want you to learn Judea-Christian traditions and American traditions. Everyone has their own interpretation according to how their family did things, as will you.
Hopefully, one day we’ll find a synagogue community that speaks to us. It’s one of the things I have yet to find since converting to Judaism. I find it easy to speak to God without a community because that is personal, but the practice of religion — any religion — is difficult without a community in which to practice it.
But more importantly than any of the things just mentioned — this is what is right for our family today. Because at the end of the day holidays and traditions are less remembered for their religious meanings and more about bringing family and friends together to eat really good food.
I celebrate Christmas not just because I have an excessive snowman collection (though it would be a pity to let that go). I celebrate it because it’s a part of me. To not celebrate it is to deny some of the most beautiful memories in my life.
You will have beautiful memories, too. I’ll make sure of it — even when I don’t know exactly what I am doing at first … like decorating a Sukkah.