Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hey! It's Festivus for the rest of us

This year, wanted to make sure that the holiday of Festivus is marked on the day the holiday occurs. In previous years, somehow it slipped by without recognition until the day after. Not that it really makes a difference in the scheme of things but holidays should be celebrated on the day they take place.

For the uninformed, this holiday got its start as a segment on the still-lamented TV comedy series, "Seinfeld" with Frank Constanza, George's father, who explains the holiday this way.

"Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way." The doll was destroyed but as George elaborated, "out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!"

The holiday is unique in that it includes the Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength. Who among us hasn't or doesn't air our grievances at some point? Speaking for myself because nobody else will, I recently aired a grievance at the supermarket, when returning rotten cheese.

"I'm now Airing my Grievances," I told the cashier emphatically, hands on hips for emphasis. "This cheese has a good-until date for three months from now and yet here we are, not two weeks later with mold."

Doubtful that the cashier was aware of the Airing of Grievances occasion in spite of numerous attempts to explain and offers to listen to her grievances, but she still gave me my money back, anyway. Not everyone wants to share.

In as far as Feats of Strength are concerned, just this morning I brought a trash bag filled to capacity to the disposal shoot and tossed it in holding it in one hand. Two days ago I walked along a slush-filled sidewalk, ignoring the option to walk on the dry road. These are praise-worthy feats, friends!

Last but certainly not least, there's the Festivus Pole, in which an un-decorated aluminum pole is displayed in place of a Christmas tree. One could, if one felt moved, dance around the pole or perhaps - just a thought - string up some cord and hang laundry. A pole is a pole is...

So once the binge-watching of TV series has lost its charm and all the gifts are wrapped, and the cat has re-decorated the tree as only cats can do, get the gang together and hold hands singing around the Festivus pole. Why? Why not?

It's Festivus all Across the Land

(Sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland")
Grievances aired, are you listening,
At the dinner, meatloaf is glistening.
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight.
It's Festivus all across the land.
Standing there, is an old pole,
Unadorned, it is a strong pole.
It stands straight and tall,
As we go along,
It's Festivus all across the land.
In the Living Room we can wrestle,
And try to pin the head of the house.
He'll say: Are you ready?
We'll say: No, man.
But we will do our best
To pin him down.
Later on, we'll conspire,
As we air grievances by the fire.
To face unafraid,
The gripes we have made,
It's Festivus all across the land.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

A Shining Light: all candles can cast a glow

At our Hebrew school, we always celebrated the various holidays, both big and small. Hanukkah was a particular favorite since our class, being the eldest students, entertained the residents of a seniors' home. Each year the teacher would select eight students to sing and perform as Hanukkah candles and competition was fierce for the part of the shamash, or head candle. It was a very desirable position for all the students since the shamash person had a prominent place above all the rest.

Not blessed with a good singing voice or even mediocre singing ability, my chances were slim at best to play any candle, never mind the head candle. The ultimate rival for anyone aspiring to win the part was Zelig, who had the voice of an opera star. Not only did he have the best singing voice, he was also the top student, scholastically and the teacher's favorite. Whenever holiday games were played including spin the dreidel, Zelig won everything, which didn't exactly ingratiate him with his fellow students.

Auditions for parts were held a few weeks before the onset of the holiday and the best I could hope for was a minor part and only if the rest of the students had an off day. Each student auditioned and as expected, Zelig once again got the lead, which irritated me and all the students, no end. My resentment was eased somewhat by being assigned the role of a minor candle, probably out of pity more than anything else. Those who weren't chosen became part of a "tra-la-la" chorus doing their thing at the appropriate time.

There was a definite air of excitement when we arrived at the senior's home, ready to perform in front of a live audience who were, for the most part, walked in with the help of walkers or in wheelchairs into a large auditorium where we were lined up on stage, anxious to perform. Glancing around the room, many of the seniors appeared to be dozing. Undeterred, the first students opened the concert and sang well as did those who followed. It was my turn and my voice for a change, didn't fail me. Always the consummate performer, Zelig opened  his mouth and it was if a chorus of angels had entered the room. His voice, strong and melodic, all attention was riveted on the young singer. Here we had put on the performance of our young lives and Zelig received all the acclaim, again. Cheers and clapping followed and he bowed taking it all in like the star he knew he was.

After performing a variety of Israeli dances and once the recital was over, we mingled with the audience but I was consumed with the memory of Zelig and the sound of the applause he received. My sulking was interrupted by an elderly woman with a trembling body wheeled over to talk to me, smiling, while making an effort to talk.

"Thank you, she uttered weakly and breathlessly. "You were all wonderful. How special you all are to visit us."

There was the sudden realization that it wasn't important who was the head candle or who had the best voice. It was significant to our audience that we had taken to time to come at all.

It wasn't long after our successful performance that Zelig's voice finally broke and he never knew whether he would sing soprano or alto. Tough luck for him. My voice, on the other hand, never changed and could always be depended upon to sing off-key.