Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Goodbye!
By Merrill Lynn Hansen
There is an old Jewish saying: "Rejoice not at thine enemy's fall, but don't rush to pick him up either."
Donald Trump has fallen (shame on me for rejoicing), and is trying as hard as he can to pick himself up and overthrow the presidential election (without any assistance from Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, that ingrate). Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on December 15 from the floor of the Senate.
But the most crushing blow to Trump’s election-rejection campaign came from the man Trump has admired and defended the most, Russia's Vladimir Putin, who also congratulated Biden on winning the U.S. election a day after the Electoral College confirmed Biden as the nation's next president. In his message, Putin wished Biden "every success", and expressed confidence that Russia and the U.S., "despite the differences, can really contribute to solving many problems and challenges that the world is currently facing." That is Putin's diplomatic way of telling Trump he's a “LOSER”, without mentioning his name.
It is obvious that it's time for Donald Trump to say goodbye and call Two Men and a Truck to come get his tanning bed and spray-on tan cans, as well as Melania's jars of caviar moisturizer, her gold-plated wardrobe, stilettos and the hard hat she posed in while claiming to have assisted in the construction of the new White House tennis pavilion.
But saying goodbye is not a part of Donald Trump's nature. He's used to getting rid of people, without any human contact. He just tweets their termination and berates them for months afterwards. Now, for the first time, he is experiencing the humiliation of being fired, and being expected to say goodbye. I can't think of anything more embarrassing for him than losing this election, because millions of dead people voted for Joe Biden, and key state ballots were counted in Germany, by a Venezuelan company. owned by allies of Hugo Chavez (who died in 2013).
As I write this, I'm not sure if Trump plans on saying goodbye. I don't even know if he plans on leaving. But one thing is certain. If he does say goodbye, it’s never going to be like the Jewish goodbye, which is long, but loving. The Jewish goodbye is the perfect example of a peaceful transition of power. It is definitely noisy, but not chaotic. It's peaceful, because there is a calm afterwards that makes you want to call everyone the next day to tell them how much you enjoyed being with them.
The Jewish goodbye actually begins as the guests arrive. While everyone is shaking hands, and hugging and kissing, they all immediately say they're not going to make it a "late night.” The pandemic and its remote get-togethers, have not shortened the Jewish goodbye. In fact, virtual Jewish goodbyes are longer, because some so-called guests are already at home, relaxing, and lying down while they schmooze.
After everyone is seated at the dinner table, the host and hostess begin by thanking the guests for coming, and everyone sincerely expresses how much they love being together. The host and hostess acknowledge all the "contributions” from everyone (the sweet potatoes, the green-bean casserole, the desserts, and the fruit tray) that make the dinner a success. Everyone has ignored the email they'd received from Donald Trump Jr. the week before, "encouraging" them to donate $10,000 for a chance to meet Trump Sr. at "a very important dinner coming up.” (Feh. We wouldn't donate money for a chance meeting with Donald Trump, when we can donate a side dish and have dinner with people whose company we enjoy.)
The dinner conversation is often about the issues that are affecting everyone's lives, and among my own family members and friends, are intelligent, and often energizing. The guest who has earlier whispered to his spouse that he's tired and wants to leave before dessert is served, suddenly wants a piece of seven-layer cake, while he takes part in an animated discussion about his work and the paths everyone's careers have taken since their first job. The guests who said they have to get up early the next day for work (even if working from home), are now discussing milestone birthdays, whether or not one’s forgetfulness is age-appropriate, and the effects of stress. Politics and current events are always discussed. ("So, who do you think kisses Trump' s butt more : Lindsay Graham or Ron Johnson?)
The young adults, who have grown up together, and the children, also join in the conversation, because they, too, are great conversationalists, and have life experiences and opinions to share. (Even though he’s a member of the tribe, Trump's senior adviser, Stephen Miller, has been excluded from the guest list, because the little children would think he's "scary,” as would everyone else in the room.)
There is, of course, much humor, and even a bit of making fun of each other. (When my non-Jewish ex-husband first came to a luncheon at a relative's house, and an uncle spotted him about to put mayonnaise on a corned beef and pastrami sandwich, my uncle told him that whenever someone puts mayonnaise on a corned beef and pastrami sandwich, a Jew dies. My husband then responded, “I didn't know that. Merrill only warned me that she would kill me if I drank milk with Chinese food in front of her parents.")
Sometime during dessert, people who have already put their coats on (or pajamas, if they're on Zoom), and are about to leave, sit down again, for the election of the hosts of the next holiday dinner. Two or more people volunteer to host the next holiday get-together at their homes, and there is much discussion about the details that influence the decision. Does it take more than half an hour to get to their homes from where the other guests live? Do they break fast a little before sundown, or do they wait? Do they serve anything that's gluten-free? And most importantly, is their dining room/living room big enough to seat 32 people, without everyone having to lose 15 pounds before the next holiday gathering, so they don't have to squeeze around everyone's chairs to get to the buffet?
After much discussion, everyone decides who the next host and hostess will be; and the election results are announced, even though Steve Kornacki never arrived with his Magic Board and calculator. Among my family and friends, we have preferred loved ones whom we happily "re-elect." No one-term hosts and hostesses for us. The first night of Passover will forever be at their home.
Trump would definitely be a one-term host (if ever elected at all), and would have immediately begun tweeting that he won the election, even as the votes were still being counted. He would tweet so many false accusations about voter fraud and Democrats rigging the election, Twitter would respond with a label that says OFFICIAL SOURCES CALLED THIS ELECTION DIFFERENTLY.
It is at this point during the long Jewish goodbye that the peaceful transition of power begins. (Our guest, who grew up in Texas, will not join a voter fraud lawsuit against Michigan, because his wife is from Michigan, and he is certain that her deceased parents did not mail in ballots for Joe Biden. )
There is the sharing of recipes with the host- and hostess-elect (Ruthie's gefilte fish; Norman's salad dressing; Auntie Florence's sunshine cake).
The list of email addresses and phone numbers of the out-of-towners are provided, so the host and hostess-elect can contact them to see if they're planning on coming to Michigan for the next holiday. ("Shayna and Max will be in town for Passover, but I'm not sure if Ken and Lisa will be here.") Classified information is also shared ("Barbara has been dating a man who is divorced and has two children. I heard about it from Terry. Don't tell anyone that I said anything, because I don't know if she'll bring him to your house for dinner. There naturally is some suspicion that Russia knows all of our classified information, but Trump is refusing to comment. That's a sure sign that Putin also knows who Barbara is dating.
Our host graciously tells the host-elect that he'll be happy to assist him in any way to make the transition easier. ("If you think you'll need some extra chairs for the dinner, let me know and I'll personally drop them off. he also offers the host-elect some helpful advice before he leaves ("Be careful backing down the driveway. It's steep and if you turn too much to the right, you might back into the drainage ditch.")
As we finally prepare to leave, our host and hostess once again thank us all for coming and tell us what a pleasure and privilege it is to have us in their lives. We all give hugs or blow virtual kisses, and tell everyone to stay healthy. We have been saying goodbye for four hours and Donald Trump will have tweeted 465 tweets; Rudy will have put together Fox's greatest team of conspiracy theory attorneys to ever argue election fraud cases on Saturday Night Live.
I'm not expecting Donald Trump to say goodbye, and Melania certainly doesn't want to have to smile in public ("Who gives a "fawk" about saying goodbye, Donald?"). I imagine that meeting with his lawyers to discuss a self-pardon is going to take some time. I'm certain the one thing Trump hates more than Joe Biden being our next President, is having to resign and let Mike Pence be our next president for ten minutes, while Pence pardons him.
Nothing is forever, and Trump will likely be the next President of one of his golf resorts. He's welcome to join my family and friends for a holiday gathering, but we'll remind him that even though the Jewish goodbye is long, everyone knows when it's time to leave.
Merrill Hansen is a legal assistant, living in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She describes herself as a frustrated writer, who wishes she could be Nora Ephron (when she was alive), if only for a day. She is a news-, political- and FB-junkie, a combination that requires a constant reminder that she needs to take deep cleansing breaths when responding to people who don't agree with her.