Years ago, I had a boyfriend whose family was Methodist. He told me that none of them really got along with each other. I braced myself for the holidays with them. There was not enough bracing in the world for what I witnessed: Nothing... There was no yelling. There was no throwing. Everybody was cordial to each other... Polite... Friendly even. "Happy Holidays". "How've you been?" I'm like: "What the hell is this? You promised me three generations of hate. I've been ruder to strangers with expired coupons on the check-out line." All I could hear in my own head was: "Dorothy, you're not in the Land of the Jews anymore."
When Jewish people go to a family gathering big or small, public or private, there are certain unwritten rules we've all learned to follow over the millennia:
- Anything... Even innocent holiday greetings... can easily be turned into an argument.
- There's no such thing as a rhetorical question.
"Yeah, if you don't get drunk and make a fool of yourself like you did at the baseball game that we got thrown out of in July, I'll have a happy holiday."
"How've You Been?"
"How've I been? Miserable, that's how I've been. I went back to the same doctor eight times and he still can't find what's wrong. He took me off the one pill that was working and put me on something else. Now look at the rash I got... And, let me tell you: It's not just on my arm."