Chranukah+ Decorating at the Wittbloom Apartment

28 Nov

Zack celebrated his first Christmas in decades* with my family last year, and may have actually enjoyed it more than all of us combined. His excitement was adorable** and gave the festivities an added liveliness that I loved. This year, we have decided to navigate our holidays jointly — we’re celebrating Chanukah, since Zack is Jewish, as well as Christmas, since that’s my family’s tradition (even though my brother is an atheist, my dad is sort of flexibly spiritual and I am agnostic-earth-mother-esque. My mom is still Christian, though!) Thus, I got to spend my Sunday putting up Christmas decorations, in the tradition of the Wittlifs, the weekend after Thanksgiving while Zack was off celebrating his patron sport*** of football.

*In 1989, I celebrated Christmas in New York with my mom’s family, who are Christian Scientists. (The ones who don’t take medicine.) There’s video of it and everything. My sister and my cousin had a bath argument on whether it was “Santa” or “Santa Clause.” I think the answer is both.

**If she won’t describe it, I will. I woke up at like 7:15 a.m. bouncing up and down, saying “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” as my grampy spun in his grave. His three criteria for a future mate were 1. Jewish 2. Jewish 3? You guessed it. Jewish. Thankfully, these are not my criteria and Caitlin passes all my tests with flying colors.


I had a lot of trepidation about the Christmas decorations we’d be putting up. I tend to find them tacky, gaudy and unnecessary. Not to be a grinch, I just think there’s so many ways to do decorations poorly. (And only a few ways to be funny.) But once I saw this on the door when I came home last night, I knew I’d be walking into a tasteful set-up.

There is a tradition of music that accompanies my family’s decorating. I started out with Bing Crosby, but after about 4 songs of him, I decided his history of familial abuse was too creepy, and switched over to my favorites, Peter, Paul & Mary. They have a holiday album with a mix of Christmas and Jewish songs*, and mostly, I adore their voices. A warmth washes over me when I hear them. After their album was through, I’d only assembled the bottom third of our fake Christmas tree and needed a break.

*Peter Paul and Mary is not the Jewish music that any Jews I know listen to. We go “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel.” That’s pretty much it.

I like all of the decorations except this bell chain thing on the inside of our front door. Bells are the most unnecessary part of the holiday. Sleigh Bells. Jingle Bells. Bells on doors. There are no good bells. This thing may end up missing along with the strobe smoke machine from Halloween. 

When I jumped back in after lunch, I kicked things off with Burl Ives. He got me through the second third of the tree, and then I went crazy and put on some celtic Christmas music. I immediately started grinning and whistling, because there’s something about the Christmas tradition couple with Irish music that makes me feel like I’ve traveled back in time to the 1700s, and I’m wearing really cool clothes* (and have lost all my rights as a woman … ok, so not jazzed about that part). But I think my dad instilled the love of things European and old in me, since he’s all about history. Happily, this celtic Christmas album** swept right into the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas album, which is another staple of my family. This one is more of my mother’s favorite, as Charles Shultz is kinda her man.

*These are exactly like my day dreams, only the complete opposite.

**I’ve always hated pretty much all Christmas music, but last holiday season I worked in a mall selling remote control helicopters and had to stand next to speakers playing Glee Christmas music all day long. I literally just went blank when writing this sentence, because my pure hatred for bad Christmas music burned so fiercely I couldn’t hold a thought in my head. I would have killed for Charlie Brown Christmas in that mall. Bing Crosby would have been a joy. I would have tolerated Celtic. 

Part of the fun of putting decorations on the tree is to remember the memories you have about those decorations. Though we have a collection of hundreds of ornaments in San Antonio, I’ve kept it simple for the Wittbloom tree — it’s mostly glass balls*, lights (and bubble lights), and then a few scattered meaningful decorations from my childhood**. I’m big into wreaths on the front door, and I fell in love with our “Welcome” sign a few years ago when I first saw it. It also matched the adorable stocking*** I bought. 

*Hehe glass balls

**There are a number of ornaments with Caitlin or Cat written on them. I promise you, I do not want an ornament of my own. I would rather have anything else in the world. I’m glad Caitlin enjoys them, though. It was nice to hear their history.

***The stocking is kinda cool, but looks really full. How are we gonna fit 8 Chanukah presents in there? 

I think the finished tree looks beautiful, and it gives me that warm and cozy sense of  family and friends and thankfulness that I always feel during the holiday season. Despite his initial misgivings, I think Zack is pro-decorations now, too. We ready to head into the holiday season.

 I really love this reindeer on the porch. I especially like how you can see the reflection of the lights from the tree in the window. The tree may block the Jack White shrine, and there’s still no Menorah in sight, but I’m starting to come around on Christmas decorations.It’s beginning to look a lot like Chranukah.

+I hope Caitlin knows what she signed up for with Chranukah. Oh, Urban Dictionary. I think our real Chanukah celebration will consist of 8 nights of menorah lighting, a batch or three of potato latkes and hopefully we can track down a dreidel. We’ll also do Chanukah gifts. I had to tell Caitlin that day 3 of Chanukah can be like “Oh, here’s 3 starbursts.” Most of Chanukah is pretty lame. She’s almost too good at gifts. I had to reign her in. Happy Holidays, all.  


One Response to “Chranukah+ Decorating at the Wittbloom Apartment”

  1. Geneva November 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    I’ve seen that video! At Nanna and Grandpas…I wasnt born yet but Matt and Dan where there!

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