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”→
For the last couple of months, two ladies who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have been stopping by our house every third week or so. They are very aware of my status as a Jew because the posts by my front door make it clear where I land on matters of the spirit.
While I am firmly rooted in my “religion” (I put that word in quotes because Judaism is so much more to me than just a religious practice), I also believe in being kind.
It’s common knowledge that as we get older, we become more aware of time. It seems to pass more quickly than in our youth, with the months and years marching past so fast that we feel dizzy.
When my father died, I initially counted his absence in days. It was important to do so because for the first 30 days, I wore a torn ribbon over my heart as an outward sign of my inward grief. Once those 30 days passed, I still counted in days, ensuring that I recited the Mourner’s Kaddish each evening before saying the Sh’ma. As time passed, I began marking the loss of him in weeks. Every Friday, I’d say to myself, “It’s been X weeks since Dad died.”
I’ve been silent these past months, not by choice but because grief, depression, and crippling anxiety attacks have rendered me immobile. I have felt stationary – unable to muster basic interest in most things besides sleeping, reading, and endlessly scrolling through social media feeds. I’ve still pushed myself everyday; I’ve still gotten out of bed and gone to work, but that in and of itself has caused anxiety as I question my ability to do my job, my career choices, and my prospects for the future.
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”→