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 “On grief and Jewishness during the holiday season”→
Services start at 10am and they end around 6pm (this is for our shul (synagogue), many others will have different schedules), with small breaks in between. Those who are able should also fast from sundown the night before until the fast is “broken” after Havdalah (the service that ends “holy time” celebrated at the end of Shabbat and holidays) at the “end” of Yom Kippur. This means that a person is sitting through hours of services while thirsty and hungry. (Full disclosure: I was unable to fast this year because my blood sugar is very wonky right now, and I’ve had far too many issues/episodes lately. So, I ate lightly and small to regulate my blood sugar.)
Yom Kippur is also beautiful. It is edifying to come together as a community, pray with other Jews the same prayers being said throughout the Jewish world. The sanctuary is packed to the gills, familiar and new faces both plentiful. We start at the beginning of the Machzor (our prayer book used for High Holy Days) and at the end of the day, we will have reached the end, some 600+ pages later.
I’ve been really terrible about blogging lately. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone cares about anything I have to say, so I wonder why I continue to maintain this blog. Granted, I’ve had it for ten years, and I always hope my life will suddenly become insanely interesting and I’ll have no choice but to chronicle my life on here.
But, alas…right now, I’m quite boring. And I keep the blog alive because… well… because.
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 “Leaking roofs, leaking eyes, and Christmas annoyances”→
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.
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.