Even the most spirit-filled among us eventually get a little worn down in December: holiday parties, shopping for gifts, relentless Christmas music and saccharine declarations of “peace, love and joy.” No matter what your religious or celebratory affiliations are, December is tough. It often leaves people feeling worn out, a little jaded and sometimes depressed. Here are some thoughts about making it through the month without all the baggage…and perhaps a little more joy than last year.
Menorahs. Dating back to the time of Moses, I see the Menorah and the lighting of the candles not only a rich part of Jewish culture and heritage, but also as a symbol and act of experiencing our history in the moment. The holidays are full of traditions and symbols that, quite frankly, don’t make any sense in 2018…but we do them anyway. Our traditions—especially in December—connect us to our past and act as a bridge to future generations. Whether it is attending Midnight Mass, baking grandma’s famous cookies or watching It’s a Beautiful Life, try reconnecting to the traditions that mean something to you and your family.
Amazon. Christmas is commercial. We need to get over it because it’s not changing. Personally, I make a conscious choice not to do any non-essential shopping until after Thanksgiving because the “Christmas creep” totally ruins the season for me. I am not going to suggest that you hand-make all of your holiday gifts and wrap them in newspaper—if you love shopping have at it! Just make sure that when you’re shopping it’s with intention. If you can’t find that “perfect” gift for cousin Norbert, then maybe you need to rethink giving him a gift. My take on shopping in December is this: no one is forcing you to shop and consume...step back and think before you swipe (or insert or tap…or whatever we are doing these days).
*For my most cherished gift, see below
Plastic baby Jesus. I’m not a “kid person.” I mean in theory they’re cute but I really didn’t grow up around other kids and we don’t have friends with kids. Kids to me are like tree sloths: cute in pictures, rare in everyday life and a little bit scary once you encounter one that’s hungry or tired. But no matter how foreign they are to me and how awkward I feel when a baby laughs at me while in line at the grocery, it’s really hard to not to smile at them. Whatever your thoughts on religion and especially “the Church,” I encourage you to keep in mind that most people aren’t trying to convert you when they say “Merry Christmas”; they simply are trying to be nice with a seasonal greeting. And to those who get their knickers in a twist with “Happy Holidays”; stop, just stop...you’re acting like an old man who scowls at a happy baby.
* My most cherished gift (sorry mom!) was a used book of English carols given to me by my high school choir director. At the time I was disappointed it wasn’t a CD but over time it’s come to mean more to me than anything else I remember receiving.
In no particular order, I offer a list of things that bring me joy/make me happy/make me feel grateful...what are yours?
The early morning light from my kitchen window
Listening to music from my high school years
The Golden Girls on Lifetime
How my cat runs to the door when I come home
How my cat bites me when he's done with the petting
"Come, labor on" and a few other Anglican hymns
The sound of the coffee grinder
Hearing, "Hey babe, you're home!"
That feeling after the gym when I didn't want to go in the first place
The smell of onions in the saute pan
Colored Christmas lights covered in snow
Seeing the gloaming sky from anywhere on earth
Driving without a destination
The smell of an extinguished match
The memory of my grandmother's voice
Looking at magazines with no intention to purchase
Walking through Central Park
Talking to my mom on a Friday night
Looking up flights to exotic and distant places
Chocolate and peanut butter
Two dozen white roses
An afternoon nap
My thoughts and reactions to the world in which we live...completely biased and unfiltered.