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Accommodating Accommodations

Holiday accommodations span far wider than hotels and motels. Whether a host, guest, family member, friend, neighbor, colleague, or otherwise, the holidays are a time when we are all brought together under many circumstances, and required to deal with each … Read More

By / December 1, 2009

Holiday accommodations span far wider than hotels and motels.

Whether a host, guest, family member, friend, neighbor, colleague, or otherwise, the holidays are a time when we are all brought together under many circumstances, and required to deal with each other in ways unlike most other days. It brings out the best and worst in everyone. For me, it often feels like these decisions define me. I have always struggled in balancing truth with tact, and tend to be either far too blunt and direct or completely spineless. And of course I also struggle with wanting so very much to accommodate without compromising my principles or even identity.

An example from my own experience. One Passover, a couple showed up, stoned, and presented me with a cake. Not exactly the Elijah I was expecting. And this was a real, Italian bakery, flour and butter laden, gorgeous cake. I had no idea what to do. Part of me was humiliated, because they know I am observant. Part of me was terrified not to be a gracious host, or to spoil the otherwise wonderful occasion. Part of me (a really big part of me) wanted to slap them silly. So what did I do? I put it out on a non-Passover plate and kicked myself for the rest of the holiday. Not my greatest moment.

There are other dilemmas. What do you serve for Thanksgiving? Do you send holiday cards? Do you attend Christmas parties or invite non-Jews to your Chanukah gatherings? Is a cookie exchange acceptable? Do you nibble on the catering at the company holiday party? I feel like November and December are fraught with these kind of decisions. And while the actual choices are very important, often the process and conversation are equally if not more significant. If you refuse that holiday ham, can you do it in a way that does not offend? How do you not break bread without breaking faith? What can you offer to mitigate your refusal?

I’d like to hear more of your stories. How do you accommodate for the holidays?

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