Tuesday, 23 December 2014

All I want for Hanukkah is... SILENCE (not X-mas)

The last one that has to do with Holidays, I promise. At least until the Valentine's Day or whatever our local Dollar store starts displaying a week from today -- they always know best.

I should've known what to expect three years ago when a new neighbour moved in around the corner from us and erected a contraption that, at a click of a button, made his outdoor swimming pool go indoor. Or when he installed two of those garage elevators so he could store his four SUV's - vanity license plates carefully yet not originally chosen - in the double car garage. 4UQT! Barf bag, puhlease!!! If that wasn't enough, by the end of the summer a contractor came and started work on what had seemed to be a perfectly good driveway (after all, the house was brand new), only to reveal some 20k later - are you ready? - the blue & white logo of the Toronto Maple Leafs smack down in the middle. I promise to take a picture of it and risk trespassing. It would be totally worth it! The next owner will no doubt have to be a fan! The only thing missing on the house was a mezuzah. So I should have known...

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???!!!
The house
- Ask Aba*!

[*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"
But what happens when the tiredness comes from the exhaustion of feeling pressured to buy and buy big on every single step. That's all they do since mid November - the TV and Radio stations - sometimes starting even earlier. "You'd better get ready, the shopping days are dwindling down" "Show how much you love them". The Malls, the shops, the billboards, the noise, the shiny happy people and the golden wrapping paper... I mean, just look at this woman, on the commercial for one of the major electronic retailers. Show of hands, who doesn't want to be the enchanted her? Or better yet, who doesn't want to be the owner of the hand 'as seen on TV'?!
This year, my e-mail got legitimately spammed. I started getting messages from a spa I once trusted with a facial, with the personalized "The clock is ticking if Marina still wants to get the glow for the holidays". The blender I diligently registered in order for the warranty to work is reminding me it's the last day to order... How many 600$ blenders do I need, darling Vitamix people?
Actually, I am very proud to have completed soon-to-be an entire year of starting my work-days with a green smoothie. One of those resolutions, I miraculously held for 12 months! How much more should I slurp to qualify for peace from these marketers?

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.



I hope you have all 9 candles ready for tonight's lighting of the Menorah. I hope that the last eight days have reinstalled the sense for the miraculous that life really is. May you all grow from strength to strength. Happy Hanukkah! 
And I hope that right there inside of you, you'll find everything you need to believe; to FEEL the family gathering and the spirit of giving as the meaningful and sacred time. Merry Christmas!

No purchase necessary. 

1 comment:

  1. I have been offline for a week (speaking of silence...) but am very glad to return to the land of internet to find this post. I've missed you! Happy holidays. xo