Due to the fact that I’m a Jew, and I am still coping with grief, I have an incredibly complicated relationship with this time of year. Last year, the holiday season was horrible. I was bombarded with Christmas greetings and music and messages and, more than once, I ended up in a puddle of tears because of the memories of my childhood and the people – my brother, my father, my paternal grandparents, my mother-in-law – that have all died in the past four years. Add to that that I literally had a Salvation Army bell ringer yell at me because I didn’t wish her a “Merry Christmas” back, and I simply couldn’t handled it. I made a vow that in 2020, I would not be subjected to the onslaught of Christmas cheer and memories that were too painful to enjoy. For months now, I’ve been making plans to ensure that I didn’t have to get anywhere near a store between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The thing I hadn’t planned on, though, was that in a year, I would change. I would heal. I would feel better.
I’m not going to lie – this Christmas season was hellish for me. For one, I obviously don’t celebrate the holiday and when it’s shoved down my throat everywhere, I get irritated. Anyone who says there’s a “war on Christmas” and that people don’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore has never been a Jew in December. I used to respond with, “Thanks, I don’t celebrate it,” but now I just smile, nod, and walk away. It’s not my holiday, it’s not something I believe in, but I know people are just trying to be kind and spread holiday cheer so I move on. It’s not a battle I feel like fighting.
But mostly, this season was horrendous because I used to celebrate Christmas and so many of my childhood memories are wrapped up in the holiday. Now, when I think about those memories, I think of my father and my younger brother and the spike of pain that stabs me through the heart is almost unbearable. At every turn, I’m reminded of loss this time of year. It makes for dark times during a dark period on the calendar (at least in the Pacific Northwest!) Continue reading
I am always filled with a sense of renewal and excitement during the Days of Awe*. Granted, the High Holy Days* usually occur in early fall, when the temperatures are dropping, the rains are returning, and the leaves are beginning their transition. Considering Fall is my favorite season here in the Pacific Northwest, when it’s combined with the High Holy Days, it brings an unbeatable combination of rejuvenation, hope, and purpose into my life.
We discovered a minor leak inside the Winnebago the day after Thanksgiving. It’s in the spot where the coach and the cab meet and it’s midway down in a corner area. Since we’ve only owned it for a month, even though it’s 12 years old, I was fairly dramatic about it. (“I can’t believe she’s leaking! I hope it’s okay! What if they can’t fix it? What if we’re left with nothing but a pile of rust and mold? Did we buy a lemon?!”) Continue reading
I love the Jewish High Holy Days. While we have a lot of holidays on the calendar, I’ve been practicing Judaism long enough to know that Yom Kippur is my favorite holiday. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is joyful and celebratory, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is serious, somber, and breathtakingly powerful. This year was especially poignant because I attended the Yizkor service, which honors those who have died during the previous year and comforts those who are mourning.
Yom Kippur is about ensuring that we have righted our wrongs so that our names are inscribed in the Book of Life for another year. Continue reading
Me + Christmas tree, 1981
Lately, my conversations with my mom have gone a little like this:
Mom: “I sure would love to come out and visit again.”
Me: “I’d love for you to see western Washington in the fall.”
Mom: “I’d really love to come out and celebrate Christmas with you.”
Me: “No more Christmases for me, remember?”
Mom: *sounds of crying into her iPhone*
Mom: “I saw the cutest thing I wanted to buy you for Christmas, and then I remembered that I couldn’t…”
Me: “Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year, Mom. You can buy gifts if you want.”
Mom: *cheerfully* Okay!
We got invited to a 4th of July picnic this afternoon and our host is diabetic, so I scrambled to come up with something that is both yummy, pretty diabetic-friendly, and doesn’t require me to turn on the oven. (We’re having a heat wave here in the northwest and, without air conditioning, it’s about 89 degrees in the house.)
I love ambrosia salad and, with a few modifications, I made it relatively diabetic-friendly.
Merry Christmas! To anyone that reads this, I hope that your Christmas (if you celebrate it) was beautiful and completely free of stress. As for us, we couldn’t have asked for a more low-key holiday. Honestly, as the sun slips away and darkness arrives once again, I find myself maudlin. Continue reading