Letter, December 8, 2012

The Town Hall

New York, NY


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DIGIS:
Happy Holiday
Happy Holiday
Ven dos mazel kumt
Shtel im a shtul.

DK: I was in a quartet with my sisters when we were kids called the Percales and we recorded a song, "Ven dos mazel kumt," which became a big hit ---- "Ven dos mazel kumt" means "When good fortune comes" ---- and two weeks after the record came out, the quartet broke up and Lulu and Lolita became a duet and Leila tried to make it as a flying trapeze artist and I became the mother of Lyle and Leslie. My name is Leilani. It was twenty-two years ago, "Ven dos mazel kumt" and the other day I Googled the phrase and found a blog of a man named Frank. His Christmas letter to his friends -----

FN: A very merry Christmas from all of us Hawthornes. Donna and the kids are living with her mother in Queens and I am here in a minimum-security federal facility in Springfield and doing very well. Those of you who testified against me for the prosecution ---- I have no bitter feelings. Contrary to what you may think, Pyramid Investment was not ---- repeat, Not ---- a Ponzi scheme. There was no intent to defraud any of you. I am completely at peace with myself. As the saying goes, Ven dos mazel kumt
Shtel im a shtul. I still consider myself the luckiest man in town. Sincerely, Frank

DIGIS:
Happy Holiday
Happy Holiday
Ven dos mazel kumt
Shtel im a shtul.

SS: Dear Friends, family, colleagues, associates, and fans, Merry Christmas and I hope that 2013 is just as phenomenal for you as 2012 was for me. A year ago, when Frank lost all of my savings, I was caught up in negativity and then I realized, like the song says, Ven dos mazel kumt
Shtel im a shtul. It's hard to translate it into English, but roughly it means
There is light within you. You are bountiful. Stay open to the light, stay positive, and stay you.

DIGIS:
Happy Holiday
Happy Holiday
Ven dos mazel kumt
Shtel im a shtul.

ER: I had been accepted into Yale Drama for Grad School and then my mother lost her entire savings to an idiot neighbor named Frank who is now rotting in prison, and instead of Yale, I had to live on the couch of my ex-boyfriend's sister's best friend in Brooklyn without Wifi and since I was maxed out on eleven different credit cards and was living off peanut butter and graham crackers, I had to take a job at Santaland ---- as Santa ----- it was an affirmative action thing ---- and I hated every minute of it, the "HO HO HO" and the "What would YOU like for Christmas?" I felt like a dork and a dillweed. And there was one thing that got me through that dark time. It was this line of Yiddish. Ven dos mazel kumt shtel im a shtul. My mother wrote it down on a sticky note for me and as I recall, what it means is: A long life is the best school you can find. I think that's so true.

DIGIS:
Happy Holiday
Happy Holiday
Ven dos mazel kumt
Shtel im a shtul.

TR: Every year around Christmas, I ask myself: Why am I here anyway? What is the point of my existence? All around me people are celebrating something, I don't know what, and here I am alone and miserable and living on the edge. But I went downtown to buy a rice steamer and they sent me up to the 8th floor and there was Santaland and I looked in and Santa was a golden goddess in a red gown and I walked up to her and she said, What would you like for Christmas? And I said, I want meaning in my life. And she said ----- I'll never forget this ---- Ven dos mazel kumt shtel im a shtul. I studied German in college and what it means is: When two meatballs stand in the sauce, there is still hope for the world. She changed my life and when I went back to thank her, she had disappeared. One of the elves told me she had quit.

ER: I walked out of Santaland and turned in my gown and picked up my paycheck and went back to my ex-boyfriend's sister's best friend's couch in Brooklyn and those words rang in my ears. Ven di kats shloft, tantsen di meiz. Even when we sleep with our clothes on, we are dancing naked. I think that's it. Or was it Ven dos mazel kumt? I don't know. Whatever. It doesn't matter. It just made me feel like something good was about to happen.

DK: I was on the F train heading for Brooklyn to see Lyle who is engaged to a beautiful girl named Louella and somebody stepped on my foot and I sat down and there on the floor was a nickel and I said, Ven dos mazel kumt shtel im a shtul. May one good thing lead to another. And this woman sitting next to me turned and said, That's so true.

ER: We struck up a conversation and discovered that we're both Libras, both vegetarians, both marathoners and big fans of alternative jazz, both of us majored in botany, and both of us do Ashtanga yoga.

DK: And then it was my stop, Prospect Park, and we promised to keep in touch, and when I got up on the street I realized I had lost her email address. But you know, it doesn't matter. We're kindred spirits. Both of us live in hope. Both of us believe that kindness is the heart of true spirituality. Both of us are incurable optimists. Like it says, Ven dos mazel kumt shtel im a shtul. Stand still and you will be amazed by friendship.

DIGIS:
Happy Holiday
Happy Holiday
Who knows what it means
But no matter what it's true.

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