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Friday roundup: Oy, Freedom Edition

Posted by Robin Abrahams  March 29, 2013 07:37 PM

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Who else saw the clip of President Obama saying "That's some good matzoh" in his recent trip to Israel (here on "The Daily Show")? It was a rare Michael Scott moment for a usually suave and authentic man. Just, no, Mr. President honey. We don't compliment the matzoh. Sheesh. It's called "the bread of affliction" for a reason. 

But of course, what do you say about the matzoh if you're not Jewish? You can't complain about the matzoh. It's not yours to complain about. 

It looks funny, from the outside, the way Jews complain about the matzoh, or about fasting on Yom Kippur. Why have so many holidays you don't enjoy? Crazy, right? No wonder we invented psychoanalysis. 

But after writing an advice column for eight years now, I see the brilliance of it. Holidays make people miserable. So you just kind of bake a little misery into a few of them. Good. Now we all know what to do with the inevitable unhappiness that accompanies the joy. 

No matter how much we love our families and friends, our homes and our churches or temples, our stories and our traditions, food and presents and parties, a holiday takes it out of a person. Everything becomes more intense: family dynamics, economic tensions, time pressures. And sometimes holidays come when you're fighting some private battle of your own, from a dissertation to a loved one's illness to an addiction, and you just don't feel like celebrating. 

Times like that, it's really nice to be able to bitch about the matzoh.

  matzoh.jpg
It's there, it's square, I'm used to it.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email missconduct@globe.com.

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