When we were kids, did Hannukkah for the reasons every other secular Jew did - to keep up with the Jones (ie: kids want loot at holiday time). We did light the menorah, which, little pyro that I was, I really enjoyed. That was the only part I kept up at all in later life (although not that - pardon the pun - religiously). When I was married, we'd sometimes do it a little bit: presents (I'm not really big on presents, but she was), lighting the candles, and making latkes
. We would sometimes celebrate Hannukkah, sometimes Christmas, sometimes Kwanzaa, sometimes the winter solstice. Mostly depended on what she felt like making, since cooking was a hobby of hers. The one tradition we definitely followed was going out for Chinese food on December 24th
Now I don't really do anything. All that having been said, I've always enjoyed Christmas. Like everyone else (except retailers), I deplore the over-commercialization, but I like tasteful decorations (although not before mid-December), Christmas trees, and the more traditional carols. I also always go check out Ogilvy's window (local department store http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEW0trn_zpE
). Not NY's Fifth Ave by any means, but a Montreal tradition, and they have hedgehogs. Not real ones of course, 'hogs don't stoop to such work, but manikins (hogikins?) to pay proper homage.
For ex-pat Americans, Thanksgiving seems to be the big holiday to celebrate, even more than July 4th
/Independence Day. It's big in the US, but bigger for ex-pats. Got a text from Vinny
(the guy I did the ride-along with) that he was working the parade. I asked if he were dressed as a cop or a Soldier, he said "Butterball Turkey." Thanksgiving Day in Canada happens much earlier than in the US (it is, after all, a harvest festival, and our growing season is about 15 minutes long), and contrary to what I said at the beginning of this paragraph (and in keeping with what I'll say in the last paragraph), I mostly ignore it. This year, what with the last Thursday in November not being a holiday here, and since the Cutaneous Lymphoma Clinic team wanted to get together for dinner, and since that was organized by a middle-easterner… I had Persian food for dinner. Only three of us showed up, but really good chow. Lamb with some herbs I didn't recognize, saffron rice topped with some sort of Iranian berry that tastes a little like a cranberry. (Hey, cranberries - that's Thx-giving tradition. Guess I did keep the US holiday after all.)
I'm not big of celebrating stuff. I keep telling myself that I should, but its usually too much bother and generally a let down. A big part of me thinks that all holidays are conspiracy between the greeting card companies and makers of anti-depressant medications. Especially the
holidays (Christmas, Hannukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus). Ebenezer Scrooge had the right idea about holidays, although even he punked out at the end.