Few days after that year's Halloween when a giant inflated pumpkin was unceremoniously removed from the manicured front lawn, a big truck pulled in with the sign: "It's a Christmas Affair". It gets dark so damn early this far north in the Northern hemisphere, that the sun had already set by 5 p.m. when I brought my favourite middle child home from JK. Worry not, no kids have been emotionally harmed with this blog-post. I'm a mother of three and call each of them 'my favourite insert the order of birth child'. They are used to it. Turning the corner approaching our home, we were blinded by the glow worthy of the Las Vegas strip.
- MAMAAAAA - exclaimed then 4 yr old Daniel - DID YOU SEE THIS HOUSE?!??!!!
- Yes, it's really pretty!
- Can we DO THAT to our house???!!!
[*Aba - dad in Hebrew]
So now, I am not too proud of dodging this request by referring it to my good husband, I figured that he is a Sabra (born in Israel), an original Jerusalem boy. Just by his birthright he sounded better qualified to explain the why not vs. why not today, which I was ready to handle.
A lot of my fellow Jewish moms have the same issue with their little ones and we kind of all feel a bit of relief when kids start Grade 1 in one of the Hebrew Schools and joyously become experts on Jewish holidays. The joy comes from learning the traditional songs and stories. The enthusiasm to remember it all, comes from the fact the schools are closed for every single one of these holidays. And there are so many!!! No kidding the kids are happy -- school is out a lot!
A mommy-blogger wrote this week a nice article on parenting in general and this dilemma that haunts non-Christmas-celebrating families - clearly we are not the only one! It also inspired the title of this post.
Seemingly unrelated, I know a thing or two about the Pharmaceutical industry -- it is often criticized for 'creating the market' for the medications they promote. If you can't recall the TV commercials reminding you the dry patches on your skin are embarrassing in addition to being itchy and bothersome, followed by the insanely undesirable list of side effects including death, everyone certainly remembers a man hopping around town on his way to work, singing a children's song. Yup, subliminally we all tend to diagnose ourselves, while washing dishes as the TV chimes on: do you feel tired? No, really, you do! Of course I'm tired. Shut up, I'll ask my doctor, all right?
|Demoted to a lower case "s"|
My biggest disappointment came when self-improvement publishers, renowned teachers and guru's, coaches and authors, who I actually enjoy reading and following, started flooding my mailbox with countdowns and subject lines such as: "It's Now or Never" or "Last Chance" to sell their programs, books and related merchandise. The closer we got to the ominous Dec 25th, the bigger the discount, the smaller the ask: get the stocking stuffers, at least! Forgetting the prevailing principle of their very books and teachings that "There is no such a thing as a last chance - every day is a clean slate". Now or Never? I'll be adventurous and go with the never. Let's see what happens, between now and next December, shall we, when the next round of bargains and last chances start flooding in.
To tell the truth, this whole time with the holiday frenzy spinning uncontrollably, I think to myself that if it was only for this year-end madness, becoming Jewish was a true blessing.
Then, last week, as we were killing some time in Chapters, a big-box-book store, in Bayview Village. I saw it clearly: This end of the year business, is nothing but... business. For those hoping for warmth, closeness to either God or family or both, all this pressure and counting and guilting sounds like one big fat lie. An approved scam.
Who the heck is Elf on the Shelf?! Mensch on a Bench??? You must be kidding me! But then again, I've seen the trees with only blue & white lights, dreidels happily dangling around, star of David proudly displayed on the top. December toy drive in a Synagogue. Who are they baking the cookies for, Hanukkah Harry? And his camel? Why does everything need to be for profit?
I know only one way of dealing with this. Silence. Whether it's my personal prayer, a meditation, a long walk or sitting alone in a room, I know how I want to feel come calendar year-end: complete and alive. I want to count my many blessings. I want to extend thanks. I want to offer help to those going through tough times. I want to review all the mistakes I have made and learn something from them. Cringe at my bloopers one last time before I let them go. I want to remember if I neglected to connect with someone in my life. Call them. Or write a long real letter, not a card. I want to forgive myself. And then everyone else. And laugh off the rest of problems. Then commit to one 'before & after' shot I will be proud to share on-line.