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Stay-at-Home Dad: The High Holiday Survival Guide

A few tips to surviving some extra family time...

Well, it’s that time of year again. The Jewish holidays are upon us, and in case you were unaware, it is probably the reason why you can’t find a roasting chicken or a nice cut of brisket anywhere within a 20-mile radius of Westchester County.

In past columns, I have explored the that the holidays have on our town, as well as my own memories of . But this year, I am going to share some survival tips on getting you through your family's get-togethers. 

First, if you are not hosting the meal, stay the hell out of the kitchen. If the host wants help, they will ask for it. But chances are they want you as far away as humanly possible. This is most likely to hide the tins and packages that all the “homemade” food came in. There are places all around town that prepare food for these events, and in the time leading up to the holidays, there are banners counting down “the days to order” the way old factories would make “days without an accident."  

The nice thing about these prepared meals is that they usually taste better than the stuff that your Aunt Nina tries to whip up. Although sometimes these meals can fall a little short by the absence of one key ingredient: salt. 

Salt is a very touchy food subject with these crowds, and there is a good chance that some of the items that are on your plate will need some sodium enhancement. The older folks that sit at the head of the table are most likely on low-salt diets, so it us up to you to sprinkle the stuff on your plate without being noticed. If a salt shaker isn’t on the table, you may be out of luck. Try the garage for some ice melt, or perhaps bring a small packet with you (and please bring an extra for someone you love).  

A great coping strategy for dealing with being surrounded by family is to drink, and drink heavily. I usually offer to take people’s drink orders, as it gets me access to the bar area. There, I usually rely on the "one-for-you, two-for-me" method of serving. Being bartender also grants me the task of pouring wine, although my sons usually want to help with that activity.  Because of this, grandma’s antique lace and linen tablecloth is starting to look like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Drinking too much can lead to another favorite coping tactic that I have: taking a post-meal nap. There is no shame to finding a quiet spot in the house, kicking off your shoes, unfastening your belt and taking a little catnap. Granted, you may miss stimulating conversation about your Uncle Joe’s root canal or your Aunt Edna’s Hummel collection, but in the overall scheme of things, food coma sleep can’t be beat!

Lastly, these occasions are a great time to let others shine. Family gatherings reveal an opportunity for people to announce their current achievements, and even for the family to meet someone’s newly-minted fiancée. It’s even a great time for the younger generation to voice their newfound political agendas, and even for them to learn from the older folks at the table. It's too bad for me that I’ll be alone in another room, sleeping off my buzz and missing all of it.

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