Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Caroling...and me

I've never actually experienced a group of carolers before, until today.  Sure - I've seen them in movies and on tv, but I never before heard an actual group of roving singers singing Xmas songs.

Here's what happened:
I work in a hospital, and I was busy doing my work, with my door shut as usual, when I heard what sounded like live singing coming down the hallway.  It was getting louder and louder, and I thought that there is no way that could be fake.  I opened the door, and there was the group:  various nurse managers and volunteers singing their hearts out from these Xmas songs.  I really hoped the patients enjoyed the singing.

As for me, I suddenly had a strong urge to put up a mezuzah on my office door.

This is a funny season.  I actually love this time of year: buildings and parks and roadways are decorated nicely, cooking and parties rule the day, everyone has giftgiving and sharing on their minds, and tv programs and movies are all about families and reconciliations and getting together.  It's a wonderful feeling.  I wish the world enjoyed this feeling more often.  But it's not for me.  It's not my holiday, not my season.  And yet, I revel in it.  I savor every decoration, every cooking show, every magazine cover.  Maybe it's because it's an "other" for me - after all, I don't have to deal with decorating my house and buying presents for 50 people and making it bigger and better than last year.  As a matter of fact, I just wrapped up an awesome Chanukah holiday, if you ask me!!!

And on December 26, I always feel a little deflated.  Like - that's it?  After all that build up, that's it?  They get that one day, and then it's back to work?  What do you take with you for the rest of the year?  What did you learn from this holiday that you didn't know before?  How are you spiritually higher?

So I sit back, happy to be just a spectator in someone else's good time.  But like today, I am constantly reminded that it's not MY holiday.  Even if I like the music (no wonder why since my co-religionists composed many of the popular songs!), and the food (make it kosher!), and the decor.

Instead, I'll start planning for an awesome Tu B'Shvat 2011...

1 comment:

  1. I came to Judaism as an adult and I find that in some ways I enjoy Christmas time much more now that I no longer celebrate it than I did as a kid when I still "did" Christmas. Standing back and appreciating the lights, the smell of pine trees, and the good food (ok, I step up and eat some of that) is more enjoyable when I don't feel like I have to participate in all the other baggage that come with it: frenetic consumerism, extensive and expensive decorating, awkward and insincere attempts to be PC and recognize that not everyone celebrates Christmas even as we inundate our society with it for 3-4 months out of the year, that hung-over feeling that descends on the 26th when you're left with a dead tree dropping needles in the living room, lots of used wrapping paper, guilt about over-indulging, and the knowledge that it's another 364 days until you get to over-indulge again. It's funny, but I'm much less sensitive now about people wishing me Merry Christmas in the assumption that I celebrate it, and all the public displays of Christmas paraphenalia that abound from Halloween to New Year's, than I was as a young adult still celebrating Christmas while aware that not everyone else does. (But I draw the line at nativity scenes in public institutions like schools or government buildings). I think I was offended on behalf of anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas because our society doesn't recognize them. What I realize now is that we don't have to try to equalize things by including a token Happy Hannukah song or the occasional Happy Kwanza card amid all the tinsel and Santa Claus. The rest of the non-Christmas celebrating populous isn't somehow deprived. Actually, in a way I think we have it better. We get all our own holidays with their own beauty, joy, traditions and foods, but also get to watch the spectacle of Christmas and enjoy some of its good aspects, like people spontaneously singing to others just to make them smile, or beautiful displays of lights. And as for the not-so-good aspects (ahem, the mall anytime between Thanksgiving and New Year's), I can just shrug and say, "Glad it's not me!"