Why New Year’s Eve Does Not Matter

Time's Square - New Year's Eve Celebration

Happy New Year: Time Square style

There are things we all miss about our youth. I’m sure each of us can come up with a list. Mine might begin with my hair.

Yet, there are many benefits to getting older. Buying your own beer is a perfectly good example.

However, as the New Year approaches, one particular benefit comes to my mind.

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Three Lessons I Learned From Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty Movie Poster

Walter Mitty movie poster.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller debuted in theatres on December 25th. And my wife and I chose to see it for our monthly date.

I watch a movie like an English teacher. Go figure. I look for themes, dialogue, conflict, and lessons learned.  Well, watching Walter Mitty one could learn a number of lessons.

Here are three lessons I learned from watching Walter Mitty.

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Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? A Jew’s Opinion

Merry Christmas sign

Merry Christmas
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A debate has been raging which you may be following. The debate centers on whether it is more appropriate to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

Obviously, the politically correct answer is Happy Holidays.

After all, we live in a diverse society in a country that was founded on religious freedom.

Happy Holidays Sign

Happy Holidays
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the reasons my grandparents and great grandparents came to America was to escape persecution that was based on religion alone. I feel very fortunate to be in America where I am free to practice my religion however I choose without fear of repercussions.

My background and feelings are not unique to me but are the story of many Americans.

So, diversity and appreciation for differences is one of the reasons I am most proud to be American.

Yet when it comes to the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas debate, I do not have a strong opinion. In fact, while I would prefer people wish me Happy Holidays, I have no problem if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas.

After all, despite the diversity and melting pot that is America, according to numerous sources 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas.

And I am American.

Now, I have neither intention nor interest in celebrating Christmas (I will always be appreciative of receiving gifts, and I would be happy to provide you with a list). Similarly, I do not expect said people to celebrate Passover, Rosh Hashana or other Jewish Holidays.

Anyway, I don’t think wishing me a Merry Christmas is some sort of plot to convert, marginalize, or insult me.  I don’t think that wishing me a Merry Christmas shows a lack of respect for my holidays and religion. It is simply part of the vernacular at this time of year. It is no different from saying have a nice day, take care, all the best.

An article regarding Christmas appeared in the Washington Post. The article noted a study done by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service. It said, “And one in four American adults (26 percent), [say] Dec. 25 is simply a cultural holiday, not a religious holy day.” It seems that this trend toward viewing Christmas in a secular manner has grown over the past 10 years.

So, there is even less reason to feel offended should you receive the greeting Merry Christmas rather than Happy Holidays.

And really, if I was so bothered by the wish of Merry Christmas, what would that say about my feelings regarding my religious beliefs? I’d say it would mean I am either uncomfortable, defensive, or uncertain.

The reality is I am none of those things. And if I were so uncomfortable with my religion or my religious choices, I could change them. However, I am very content religiously.

For the record, I am a Jew, and I identify with those who consider themselves Modern Orthodox. I observe the Sabbath, follow the kosher dietary rules, and keep my head covered at all times (other than when I am teaching in a public school where I feel it is not appropriate).

So, go ahead. Wish me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Just wish me well. It’s all good.


Why I Choose A Broken Doorknob

Doorknob on a red door.

How long will that doorknob stay secured?

I’m eight years old. I pick myself up from the living room floor.

I’ve been looking at the ceiling too many times.

I want to make it to the dining room, but my desire has nothing to do with hunger.

My brothers and I are playing goal line stand. H&M (no, not the store, but my two oldest brothers) stand in the five-foot-wide gap that separates the living room and dining room.  N (my next older brother) and I take turns trying to get past my brothers.

We jump. We run. We dive.

You see, it’s first and goal at the one. And N and I are determined to do our best Wilbert Montgomery impersonation and score a touchdown.

Every once in a while H&M let us score. It is thrilling for me.

Believe it or not, getting thrown down by my older brothers — who at that point were nearly a foot taller than me and 50 pounds heavier — was So Much Fun.

I would have been happy to play that game every day.

My parents did not enjoy it nearly as much as I did. After all, their four sons were playing football in the house. This is not exactly a typical indoor activity. But being the parents of four boys, you know things in the house will get broken at some point.


I was on the bus and nearly home. “Hey BR.  What’s up?”

“Um. SJ  broke the doorknob.”


“SJ broke the doorknob.”

“Which one?”

“The one that goes from the den to the kitchen.”

“How did that happen?”

“He ran up the stairs and grabbed it and it fell right off and now it’s broken.”

“Why was he running?”

“I don’t know.”


“Well, he was on the computer and I wanted to go on the computer.”

“So you chased him?”


“He’s okay.”



“And, he broke the door handle.”

“Okay, I’ll speak to him when I get home.”




And then I went back to reading the paper.

You see on the richter scale of house destruction, a broken door knob is near the bottom. It’s just below knocking over the lamp and breaking a light bulb and just above chipped paint.

In other words, a broken doorknob is a minor inconvenience and the price of doing business.

What business you may be wondering? Well, it’s the business of raising boys.

If I were to get upset at every nick, scratch, and mark, my boys made there would not be enough blood pressure in the world to keep my heart from bursting through my chest. By the way, did you notice that two words for minor destruction also are boy’s names?  You’ll be happy to know that my blood pressure is low.

While I did talk to SJ about the doorknob when I got home, I have no grand expectations that things will change. Instead, I accept the boys being boys – rough-housing, destruction, and rowdiness. Either that or get rid of my boys.

Which would you choose?

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