Last week, I got my first Christmas tree. Unlike the fake blue-and-white “Hanukkah bush” we had every year when I was growing up, this one’s a real, live pine tree (purchased lovingly on the corner of 2nd avenue) with glittery gold ornaments. It smells amazing.
Within 24 hours of putting it up, I got a new job, a new crush and a New Years trip to Mexico. I decided the tree was good luck, and that I should maybe reconsider this whole Christmas thing. After all, I haven’t celebrated a Jewish holiday since my Bat Mitzvah (Mom, Dad, I’m sorry. We can talk about this later).
So when my ex-boyfriend-turned-best-friend (I know, it’s weird. Just go with it.) asked if I wanted to go Christmas Caroling, it was perfect timing. It felt like a great opportunity to decide whether or not the whole “Noël” thing was for me, and plus I LOVE Christmas carols — especially the ones by Arianna Grande and Mariah Carey — so figured it would be really fun to put on a cute fur hat and go door to door on the Upper East Side singing “Santa Baby” and drinking hot chocolate.
Apparently, I was misinformed.
The first clue was when my friend told me to meet him in front of a church on 52nd street at 7pm SHARP.
“Oh what, like to pickup our booklets with the lyrics on them?” I asked.
“What? No. Just don’t be late.” he texted back. (we don’t really bother with pleasantries)
Hmm. OK. I didn’t realize carolers were so prompt. But I’m Jewish, so what do I know?
With that in mind, I had NO idea what to wear. I had a Christmas party to go to after caroling, so needed to pick an outfit that would work for both. I settled on a tube top, a gold sequined mini-skirt (no tights, thanks Global Warming) and stilettos. Clearly, I was more concerned about my party appearance than I was about staying warm as I went door to door singing “All I Want For Christmas is You.” I threw on a coat and ran out the door (20 minutes late, but whatever).
When I got there, I quickly realized that I had misunderstood (again, I am JEWISH, so these little nuances don’t quite click )— We weren’t going Christmas caroling, we were going to a Christmas concert.
And by Christmas concert, I mean a two hour mass. There would be no Mariah Carey, and no flask. But lots and lots and lots of talk about the three wisemen and their frankenstein and mirr.
For some reason, my friend thought his Jewish ex-girlfriend would be the best choice of companion to this event. Interesting.
We sat down, me with my jacket still on and zipped to the top because of the whole mini-skirt-and-tube-top thing, and the church went completely dark. Cue my inappropriate laughter (I mean. I was sitting next to my ex-boyfriend, in church, in the pitch black, in a tube top. I couldn’t help it.). Everyone was singing along and I had NO idea what to do with myself. I found the whole thing to be way, way too much.
Once I composed myself (which took longer than I’m willing to admit) I actually really enjoyed the service. It was really beautiful, and I even recognized TWO of the songs —”Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” — both of which I had to sing every year in Quaker School choir. Even though the 2+ hours of carol singing made it really difficult for me to grill the guy about his post-Zo dating life (realistically probably why he chose church as the venue for us to hang out) it was actually as a whole a nice experience, and I felt culturally educated and adventurous. Plus, I somehow managed to suppress laughter and having to pee for way, way longer than I ever thought humanly possibly.
That said, I think I’m going to stick to Hanukkah for now. As much as I love the smell of pine trees in my living room, I actually prefer the smell of latkes in my kitchen. Now, I just need to learn how to cook them.