Can You Ignore the Holidays?

December 27, 2011 at 8:48 am | Posted in Life and Living | 1 Comment
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Every year during this time there is a huge sense of excitement everywhere you go.  Togetherness and gift-giving are thrown in your face from ads in the subways and straight to your television.  Gift-giving is followed by the momentous celebration that is New Year’s Eve.

Growing up Jewish, I never totally got the whole Christmas spirit thing.  I don’t remember any real feelings of jealousy. I mean, I got a free day off from school with no obligations to spend with anyone.  I had already received 8 days worth of gifts, and now I had a full day just to play with my new toys.

But I have often confronted New Year’s Eve planning with a level of disdain.  It is such a huge night where literally the whole world counts down together.  (I wonder if when the supposed end of the world on December 21, 2012 will also be met with a similar countdown).  Each year, there is this feeling that you should end the year with a bang — do something big.  Thousands of people spend hours waiting in Times Square and other huge gathering areas, or pay crazy prices to watch the clock.  Some people take the easy way out and have people over locally — to me, that sounds like a great idea and I’ve been guilty of going that route.  I have done everything I can to get away from New York — the only time of year I purposely run away from the home I love — because it just gets too crazy.  This year, I will brave the craziness for a fun night out in the city, knowing that at least I won’t be on the road with a bunch of drunk drivers.

But back to my original question — is there really a way to ignore the holidays all together?  I imagine if you have big distractions, like a newborn child or something along those lines, you may forget about New Year’s for a brief moment.  But the holidays are here to stay. There will always be a New Year’s and a Christmas, until the world really does end.  So whether you use these holidays as excuses to let loose or a chance to remain low key, you can always do it differently next year.

And hopefully, you are making unforgettable memories in a more organic way too — without planning, without the whole world literally rejoicing at the same time.  Those are some really special moments.

Christmas Lights

December 6, 2011 at 7:41 am | Posted in Life and Living | 1 Comment
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Check this out in the Boogy down Bronx

‘Tis the season to run up electric bills and build fire hazards, all with the intention of getting into the holiday spirit, a tradition that goes back centuries all across the world.

Growing up Jewish, in an area where the population with split between Jews and Christians, it was always easy to tell who was who at this time of year.  I never decorated my house with lights, never had a Christmas tree.  I wasn’t crazy jealous of those who did, but I was always curious.  I remember going down to my grandparents’ apartment on the upper east side and being mesmerized by the Christmas tree in their lobby, and the candy canes that decorated it.  Anything that meant I received candy was a good thing.  But Jews had gelt, and to me, chocolate will always trump mint.  But really, it’s not a competition.  So many of the traditions between so many cultures are so similar, it’s just interesting to see how people observe them.

But I do have to say, there is a certain amount of excitement that you can’t deny when you see a beautifully decorated tree or a elaborately ornate home.  I mean, millions of people literally travel to New York each December to see the tree at Rockefeller, and of course window shop.  And in the Bronx, the Garabedian house has been causing traffic jams for years.

The lights, these decorations, somehow enhance our imaginations, the excitement of the season.  They help to create this atmosphere that the season is known for.  It’s all about generosity, about togetherness, about hope.  Even the Jewish holiday of Hannukah aligns with this image.  Hannukah is the festival of lights.  For eight days we celebrate miracles.

So as I get older and start thinking about what I would want my children to experience, I would consider decking the halls of my home.  I think it’s important to get into the spirit of the season, even if it isn’t your religion.  The message is clear.  Help those who are less fortunate than you.  Enjoy the company of your loved ones.  Be inspired by the miracles that happen around us, every day.

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