Are you the type who seems to end up in a holiday spirit wasteland? While everyone around you is planning family meals, or ordering gifts online already, you reign it all in and refuse to jump through the leaves or even play Dreidel? Well, I’m here to tell you that sometimes it’s healthy and even mature to harness all that childish sparkle and spunk, because if you can’t let go even during holiday seasons, when will you ever?
Then there are those, like me, who will wear that cheesy outfit; and you know it ain’t easy bein’ cheesy. Sometimes I can hardly wait to find just the perfect gift. That’s because I fall under the spell of the festivities and holy days we are given. Sure, it’s easy to become scornful, scoffing, and cynical. But what happened to your sense of wonder about the world around you? I mean are you the type who buys your kids batteries as a gift with a note saying: “Toys not included”? Sheesh.
Do your family or friends have holiday traditions that you can look forward to yearly? Think for a moment. What are they, and why do you love or perhaps dread them? Does someone whip up one of your favorite foods that you look forward to all year long? Babka, blintzes, knishes, latkes, matzah brei, kugel, hamantashen, chicken soup, homemade challah, or even a hot pastrami sandwich? Speaking of food, isn’t it cute that they sell “family-sized” Oreo boxes thinking that people are going to share them with their family? Lol.
Does someone make a party or gathering where you can spend time with friends or family? Maybe you actually take comfort and pleasure in it. Or does the idea of it thrust you head first into depression and anxiety? Perhaps you miss a loved one terribly during the holidays. I know, it stings deeply. Please try not to focus on what was lost, but what is before you. You can always say “Remember when...” Our loved ones are never truly gone. It’s time to catch the next train, sweet friends.
What tugs at those ole heartstrings of yours? Find out and please infuse yourself with it. Anything you can think of to melt that bitterness or pessimism. If you have a friend who is energetic, engaged, and enlivened, let some of it rub off on you. It’s contagious, after all. Try to breathe new life into some old habits. Perform some of your rituals a bit differently this year. Perhaps you can start a whole new tradition. Some say Chanukah is the most American of all the holidays. It’s a celebration of burning oil we don’t have. Heh.
Everyone wants to believe that they matter to someone. Please take the time to let someone know that they do, especially around holiday time. Here’s my rule: Anything that rekindles your hope is good for you. What does it take to make you more benevolent and bighearted? There is no “one size fits all.” Ask your friends or even acquaintances to share the most inspirational story of their own life. Some folks love to take a walk down memory lane. After all, aren’t festivals all about connecting? And speaking of connecting, imagine that your phone only had enough battery to last one day, but it lasted eight…Hmmmm…
Ponder how you can spend your day in a more loving way. Don’t just talk about it. Be about it. There is no shortage of people needing love in this world. And you, my friends, have unique gifts that only you can share. Get to the heart of the celebration. If you find yourself lacking in the spirit department – get spiritual. Quiet the negative committee in your head by taking some time alone with G-d. Thank Him for all your blessings at this very moment. Love one another. It’s as simple and complicated as that.
Let’s be honest. Celebrations are meant to soften your heart, spurring you to be kind and generous. Please don’t lose the spirit amidst the hectic pace of your life. And until further notice, celebrate everything. Oh, and you know what I heard: The best gift you can give is a hug. One size fits all, and guess what? No one ever minds if you return it.