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Christmastime for a Jew

Wherein I go for Chinese food and a movie but end up at temple for vodkas and latkas.

I’ve mentioned in this column before that I’ve worked every Christmas Eve and Christmas for my entire working life. It must have started while I was pumping gas during college, through guerilla television world, then for all the ensuing decades in TV news. News never sleeps, I always said, and it pays overtime on Christmas. 

Little did I know, when I was chowing down on Cantonese catering on those nights in the newsroom, that I was honoring the faith of my people. This Christmas, I planned to intentionally observe the traditional Jewish ritual by going for Chinese food and a movie. According to Christmastime for the Jews, the streets would be teeming with Members of the Tribe.

 Only thing is, I’m not sure I got the right night…

Linda Rubin December 29, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Thanks K! Good to know about Rachel. It's a small world.
Linda Rubin December 29, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Deadpan style...that's me all right. Thanks for the insight about the holiday. So far, the consensus seems to be that there's no consensus. But on the day I think of as Christmas, it seems to be all done by mid-afternoon. In fact, the Christians seem to observe in the Jewish fashion, ie. "erev" Christmas is a big dinner night and then the holiday goes on till the following sundown. Right?
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Sounds like a plan!
Irene DeBlasio December 30, 2011 at 01:01 AM
Linda, I have to agree with Hollis Evans -- your film is brilliant! When I was a child we had a spectacular seafood feast on Christmas Eve, then went to Midnight Mass. The BIG food came out on Christmas Day. My mother made Prime Rib, Ham and Turkey -- enough to feed an army -- since all our relatives came to dinner. Having 35 or so people (with a kid's table) was no problem. Times have changed -- I'm ready for Chinese next year. Count me in.
Stephanie Weiner Caramelli December 30, 2011 at 01:18 AM
OMG what a hilarious and fabulous video LInda! Look at you with fonts and effects and pov and your organic honesty and humor. Next time there is an event where latkas and vodka are there at the same time, you really must call me... anytime.. day or night.
Patrick Perez December 30, 2011 at 03:33 AM
Nicely done. Looks like you may have found your calling. Can't wait for the next one.
Craig Clough (Editor) December 30, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Linda, us gentiles tend to gather for ham or goose on both Christmas Eve and Christmas night. With all the divorces in this world, it has become necessary to make sure we are able to visit all the different branches of the extended family.
Jeff Haymes December 30, 2011 at 04:26 AM
Nice Job Linda!!!! From the Bustling back streets of Boston to the laid back land of Los Angeles you have it covered. Watch out Mal Sharpe, STREET PEOPLE may be back with a new face! Linda Rubin. All my best and a Happy New Year. Next time I am in LA we will have to hit that Chinese place.
Laura December 30, 2011 at 05:33 AM
Okay this cracked me up. And not because I just came back from the same Chinese restaurant after seeing the same movie.
Jeff Schwedock December 30, 2011 at 05:35 AM
Nice job Linda! I had the pleasure of spending some of those Christmas Evenings with you. This year I spent it with the family, making a Turkey and lighting the Menorah. Christmas Day was spent with friends and their families, Christmas Tree and Menorah lighting. Dinner was catered, but no Chinese food!
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 06:02 AM
How long after that Christmas Day feast did you call it? Christmas ends in the afternoon, doesn't it? I think it's a Jewish holiday, lasting from sundown to sundown.
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 06:04 AM
Thanks Laura! Next time you'll recognize me and my Handycam. Be sure and say Hi.
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 06:05 AM
Hi Jeff. Pleasure indeed. Thanks for commenting on the video. Glad you are having wonderful holiday nights.
Bill Pasternak December 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM
Great job Linda. Your piece hit the nail on the proverbial head while being thoroughly entertaining. Interestingly, Sharon and I did kind of the same thing on Christmas day: Dinner at the Moon Wok, and in our case, followed by watching our DVD of Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story." (We could not stay out to long as we were dog sitting my grandkids pup Franco.) And less I forget; I too remember all those years waiting for Manny Chan to bring our Christmas dinner and set it up on the Scene Dock between the two stages. Nothing like Turkey with Chow Mein and Fried Rice to celebrate the holidays. -- Bill P.
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 10:36 AM
I loved Manny's catering. He brought a traditional holiday dinner with ALL the fixin's (pumpkin and apple pies! yum) PLUS a whole Chinese combination. In Boston they just ordered out from a Chinese restaurant and the food sat on a table in the newsroom all day long for both shifts.
Cuhri December 30, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Linda, I tend to agree with Craig. The food comes out for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some families just need to spread it all out over two days. We had our big meal at lunch on Christmas Eve...leftovers on Christmas Day, but I'm thinking about joining the tribe for Chinese and a movie in 2012. Mazel for a healthy and peaceful New Year!
Jane Wells December 30, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Linda, wonderful, hilarious, educational. A verbal hat trick! At our house, we have special dinners for BOTH Christmas Eve (traditional tamales) and Christmas (roast). But next year, maybe we'll do Chinese. Less family tension....
Irene DeBlasio December 30, 2011 at 08:29 PM
Linda, Did you get a call from Steven Spielberg yet? I sent your video around the world yesterday and woke up in the middle of the night laughing. Please tell me you didn't go to film school so I can enjoy it more.
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Thanks Carolyn. I think I'll have to check the streets on Christmas Eve next year, or as I'm now calling it, Erev Christmas.
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 09:07 PM
High praise from the real deal. Thanks for checking in, Miss Jane.
Linda Rubin December 30, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Film school? I wish. When I was in school the teachers were former producers and directors of live TV drama and variety. Remember the Garry Moore show? Neither do I.
Irene DeBlasio December 30, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Linda, Yes, I do remember the Gary Moore Show. In any case, YOU DONE GOOD! Cannes -- in May, 2012?
Linda Rubin December 31, 2011 at 11:07 PM
I just added a photo I'd forgotten to include. A sign of specious origin in a restaurant window thanking Jews for their Christmas custom of eating Chinese food. You may have gotten the email.
Linda Rubin December 31, 2011 at 11:09 PM
Do you remember when we went to see What's Eating Gilbert Grape at a midnight show after the shift on Christmas night?
and15y December 25, 2012 at 04:29 PM
would it hurt to head over to a Christian and have turkey? after all they both came from the same God the Muslims do. now that you've debunked the Mayan Hollywood Myth, _of the end of the world_ maybe you should head into debunking the myth of Abraham and his encounter with God then go from there.. help lead the world out of the darkness of we're special and one step closer to making the world a better place,
Richard Core (Editor) December 25, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Thanks for bringing back this video. It's on its way to becoming a Christmas classic. But Linda, would it have hurt to order something other than the shrimp? :-) ... Hope you have a great Christmas. May you find a restaurant with a shorter wait and a movie with a happy ending.
Linda Rubin December 25, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I returned to Green Apple Bistro for Christmas Eve this year and was delighted to see Wendy still there. She and the restaurant's owner remembered me from this story and noted that i "came back a day early this year." The wait was short and the food was scrumptious.
Eva Yelloz December 25, 2012 at 10:45 PM
This was better than "Jay Walking" (Jay Leno's occasional street visits) - but Linda, I do relate to Richard Core's remark about ordering shrimp. Although only a small percent of Jews are 100% kosher, many stick to the basics of no shell fish or pork. I do recall the crowded atmosphere outside my local Bronx, NY "Kanton Kitchen" as I peeked in the window and saw many patrons I recalled from Yom Kippur services in synagogue (Yeah, we're all hypocrites.) So, for sure eating at Chinese restaurants, on Erev Xmas or Xmas day is some sort of phenomenon. Like my mother used to say, "Only in America!"
Richard Core (Editor) December 25, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I was kidding about the shrimp ... trying to write in my best Jewish mother voice.
Eva Yelloz December 26, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Richard - your Jewish mother's voice "sounded" so authentic. Who'd know you were kidding? The problem with me is, I AM A JEWISH MOTHER!!!

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