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The Bickermans' blended holiday guidelines: No "combined" gifts. No junk. Make it memorable.

The Bickermans - That's What (H)She Said ...

In this world of over-celebrating everything (yes, we're talking about you '100 Days of School) we all face a ridiculous set of choices and challenges when it comes to gift-giving, stress-inducing and weight-gaining obligations around the December holidays. Inevitably it becomes an exercise in overdoing it - even though we wouldn't change a thing.

We're The Bickermans.

Mrs. and Mr.

Beauty and Big (read that as literal, actual descriptions).

We are resolved, dammit, to not let "pandemic Christmas" slow down the frantic Bickermans' holiday pace. We won't overwhelm you with the fact that we have two December birthdays, Chanukah, Christmas and New Years', as well as another birthday in the first week of January. All of this follows our tradition of heavily decorating the Bickerman homestead and regularly hosting a large group of Italians (though not this year ...) for Thanksgiving. Oy ... Every family has their things!

Our sometimes excessive but always exciting holiday experience has produced three Bickerman Holiday Season Rules:

Mrs. Bickerman: First: NO combined gifts (this includes shared parties, cakes or gifts that count as Christmas, Chanuka and Birthday - heretofore known as CCB). Because really, CCB gifts are basically a prejudice against early winter birthdays. Your siblings born in May, June and August never have to experience such consolidated love. Wait. Do I sound bitter?

Mr. Bickerman: Bitter? At least your birthday comes in a whole new calendar year, Beauty. I've been getting lumped in with Jesus since I was a kid. Our poor teenager is saddled with a December birthday also. But I agree: Ixnay on the CCB-ay.

Mrs. Bickerman: Number two is critical: NO junk! This is probably a good time to tell you that the bag of Christmas stocking gifts you stash away in the closet every December 26 I've been recycling for about six years now .

Mr. Bickerman: I love everything every time! Plus I like having a surplus of stuff that I use every day. That's the best! Advil, Wilson high-quality socks, Gold Bond medicated powder ...

Mrs. Bickerman: What is with you and new socks? It's like you wish you could wear a new pair every day and then just toss them out.

Mr. Bickerman: Yeah, so, I actually do that ...

Mrs. Bickerman: (Huge eyeroll ...) We're going to be the first family to go broke over a sock addiction!

Mr. Bickerman: So what's rule number three?

Mrs. Bickerman: Part three is key: Make memories. In fact at this point we tend to make up new traditions just to create amazing holiday “memories”. We throw it out there and see what sticks. It started with our very accepting parents. They practically fell over themselves to embrace each others' holidays. I'll never forget how excited my mother was to present your mother with a genuine Smurf Christmas figurine set. And of course my mom and dad cherished the Fodor's book on Israel from your parents.

Mr. Bickerman: The point is - they tried. And so we try.

Mr. Bickerman: But OK - people want to know how to manage Christmas AND Chanukah. What do you think?

Mrs. Bickerman: Do it all. It makes more work and adds to the craziness, but it keeps both holidays special and creates LOTS of memories. Even the fails (chive cheesecake? a talking cucumber ornament? Chanukah Joe?) were somehow special. And our tree-trimming day! Nothing like a 12-year-old and his dad going to get the tree. Though you do insist on no more than two weeks before Christmas.

Mr. Bickerman: The thing dries out so easily!

Mrs. Bickerman: Yeah, try watering it for once ... Remember when the eight daily Chanukah gifts were so easy? A piece of candy, a matchbox car, a dollar. And when the boys were older - a book, a small giftcard, a Lego, or socks - because your teenage son has inherited your obsession with "fresh socks!" But now that they are teens: An XBox game? Fancy headphones? Sneakers? Forget about it.

Mr. Bickerman: But wait. We ALSO "do Chanukah" on a single day every year that we choose with your siblings. It's like Christmas Lite! How did that come about?

Mrs. Bickerman: We actually did this growing up in our very waspy New England town where we were known as "the New Yorkers." We wanted a Christmas-like holiday and my parents were pushovers - though they never did give in on the Chanukah Bush idea. Of course, it became its own tradition - and another source of great memories. Problem is, we've now been celebrating Christmas for many years - and you know how I dont like to COMBINE!

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