Merry Russian Christmas, New Years and Birthday


This holiday season, I noted that celebrating “the holidays” doesn’t come in a perfectly wrapped box with a set of instructions.

And when I say noted I mean embraced with giant bear hug and streamers.

Over the past decade, my family’s dynamics have evolved and changed a great deal.  We’ve changed in number, we’ve changed in participants and we’ve changed traditions.  I’ve lost family to illness, old age and various rifts and with it have come ever changing and evolving methods to celebrating the holidays and major events.

George and Nina Banks (Father of the Bride) we are not.  Pretty sure we’re not even reaching Home Alone status at this point.  (It’s been a while since the whole fam was on a plane.  I fear the repercussions this would have on future flight options).

Nevertheless, when this time of year rolls around, I can’t help but wonder if I should force dad to play basketball with me in the snow while reminiscing about my evolution as the best daughter ever before eating a calm meal filled with patience and understanding(???).

I’m not sure what the turning point was this year, but at some point I decided to stop trying to make it “perfect” and just decided to dive into enjoying my totally loving, fragmented, immigrant, kind-of-loud (super loud) Russian Jewish (with some non-Jew members) family the way they (we) are.

Yesterday (“Christmas”) was no exception to the randomness that has become the holiday season.  This year especially, with a number of recent changes resulting in half the family spending the holidays elsewhere.

I embraced the family I was with and dove right into quality time.

The following events were celebrated: Russian Orthodox Christmas (actually celebrated globally on January 7 – we ignore this detail every year).  Grandma’s birthday.  New Years.

The day’s events in summary:

  • Early afternoon vodka-malibu-peach schnapps cocktails at nearby theater (yes, grandma and I wore drinking wristbands like teenagers at 1 pm)
  • Laughing our assess off during Parental Guidance as part of birthday treat and bonding exercise
  • Dressing up grandpa as Santa’s little helper
  • Preparing enough birthday/Christmas/new years food to feed a small country as a family
  • Peer pressuring grandma’s best friend to take shots of vodka during the gift opening extravaganza (grandma’s idea)
  • Frying zucchini pancakes at 10pm with my aunt (ok, I watched)

The day followed no traditional path.  We went to the movies before sitting down to eat.  Gifts weren’t exchanged until late into the night.  Reasons for celebrating were jumbled and mixed.

I’m certain though, that if someone had peeked into our windows last night they would have witnessed a beautifully set table and laughter (not to mention grandpa’s absurd getup).

I counted my blessings and basked in a feeling of gratitude to have family and friends around that truly love one another.


I hope you all saw the glass as half full this holiday season.  How are you all celebrating?

4 thoughts on “Merry Russian Christmas, New Years and Birthday

  1. Beautifully put. I too feel so grateful to be spending the holidays with my family. Two of my favorite moments from yesterday’s extended family party I think you’d enjoy: 1. I go upstairs to find my cousins’ 4 girls ( ages 2-5) huddled around the toilet giggling. They flushed the whole roll of tp down! Of course the girls gave me a guilty smile then ran away, but several of the adults came up to see what was going on. We all cheered triumphantly when my aunt, with her years of landlady experience, unclogged it after several minutes. 2: watching my 2 year old cousin and my 23 year old sister sing a Taylor Swift breakup song together. Too cute! Happy holidays and safe travels to you Sevey!

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