Home Los Angeles News Senior Moments: Remembering the gifts – and Christmas trees – of Hanukkahs...

Senior Moments: Remembering the gifts – and Christmas trees – of Hanukkahs past

Senior Moments: Remembering the gifts – and Christmas trees – of Hanukkahs past

I just got word that my Hanukkah present has shipped from Germany, with an estimated delivery date of Dec. 18, the first night of the eight-day holiday. Not only is the gift from one of the dearest women in my life – she is the gift. This isn’t the first time Marilyn has surprised me. She air-expressed herself to my wedding to George 34 years ago and held one of the four poles of the Chuppah, the wedding canopy that symbolically unites families in a Jewish wedding.

Marilyn, who I hesitate to call extended family because that somehow sounds like she is not actually family, has been part of my life practically since she was born. Her parents, both gone now, were my guardian angels during my New York years. I admit that when their little bundle of joy came along, I wondered if it would change our relationship. Instead, it enhanced it, giving me the little sister I had always wanted.

I loved celebrating holidays in their apartment on W. 88th St. It was there that I experienced a Christmas tree in a Jewish home for the first time. Although my parents were not very religious, a tree was a definite no-no in our home. Stockings hung on the fireplace was as liberal as my father would go in our Virginia neighborhood where we were Jewish minorities.

But in Marilyn’s home, with parents who were active members of New York’s Central Synagogue, the tree was not viewed as a problem. It was embraced as a festive tradition perhaps mostly for their daughters‘ enjoyment. I can still picture Marjorie, Marilyn‘s mother, who wasbarely five feet tall, pointing to one of the tallest trees on the lot of a local vendor and having it delivered to her apartment. My memory is how much fun we had.

On my first Christmas in my Greenwich Village apartment, my roommate Linda, who is not Jewish, and I, bought my first-ever Christmas tree from a corner lot and negotiated it up the three winding flights of our walk-up apartment. We decorated it with lollipops. I invited the children from the reading tutoring group where I volunteered. We sat on the floor around the tree and ate the leftover lollipops.

When they asked me about the Hanukkah candles burning in a menorah on the mantle, I read them an explanation from a children’s book, the same book I would use to explain it to my daughter many years and many miles away later.

My memory is how much fun we had.

Email Patricia Bunin at Patriciabunin@sbcglobal.net. Follow her on Twitter at PatriciaBunin.