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Archive for the ‘December’ Category

Nobody likes a grinch. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t get into the holiday spirit.

Maybe it’s because I dislike shopping. Trying to make a morally justifiable purchase (fair trade? locally produced? organic? important? desirable?) can be paralyzing. Trying to select a personal, unique, and affordable gift is equally challenging. And pushing through throngs of shoppers while listening to Christmas carols gives me nightmares.

Or maybe it’s because growing up, the holidays were always a battle. In seventh grade my Spanish teacher wanted us to perform “holiday” songs at the school talent show. (“They’re not Christian!” she said. “Jesus is never mentioned!” “Feliz Navidad means merry Christmas,” I replied.) This is not really antisemitism. It’s just frustrating.

When I moved away from home, it got worse. Because of the nature of the Jewish calendar, Jewish holidays almost never fall during vacation time. So I spent my holidays alone, usually swamped with schoolwork. There’s nothing like thirty-page essays and final exams to dampen the holiday spirit.

I know that tonight is the first night of Chanukah because my non-Jewish friends have been e-mailing me all day, wishing me well. As for me, it may be grinch-like, but I’m trying to wipe Chanukah off my emotional calendar entirely.

That way, I should actually be able to enjoy the best part of the holiday. Latkes, anyone?

Weather: rainy and cool

Mood:

Hannah: 6 out of 10 on the  “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale.

Anna: Staying steady at 7.

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We’re nearing the holiday season (who can believe Thanksgiving is only a week away?!), so we invited our colleague, Louisa, to give us another perspective on this time of year. Here’s what she has to say:

I love fall. I love the combination of the weather, my birthday, and the brilliant colors of the leaves. As much as I love it, though, it brings up feelings of sadness, of being out of control, and of anxiety, especially as we move into late fall and early winter. Unlike many people, these feelings don’t come from the dreaded approach of a cold winter. (I competitively cross country skied in high school…) This time of year is a strong personal and emotional hotspot for me, stemming back fourteen years.

That was the fall of 1996. My family was moving from our home in Maryland to Massachusetts. My dad started work in September, so for two months, he lived with my grandparents up here, while my mom stayed home with my sisters and me. As a nine year old, I felt like everything was changing at the same time and I was powerless to stop it. Further adding to this feeling, my grandfather died suddenly at the end of September. We all came to Massachusetts for the funeral, only to immediately go back to Maryland, where our house was half in boxes. Right before Thanksgiving, we moved up here for good. It was a sad time for my family and for me, even though my tenth birthday was thrown into the mix in late October. Rather than feeling like a happy event, my birthday was confusing and disorienting. Was I supposed to feel sad or happy? What would my new life be like?

Thanksgiving was equally as confusing. Amidst all the celebration, there was an acute feeling of pain at the loss of my grandfather. And even though I had been traveling to Massachusetts since I was a baby to visit family, I was unprepared to spend the whole winter in New England. I was unfamiliar with the kind of biting cold that comes even as early as Thanksgiving some years. I learned to wear more clothes, to always take a hat and gloves, and to look at snow as a usual occurrence, not some weather anomaly.

I have grown to accept the winter weather now, and the pain of moving and my grandfather’s death has long since abated. But even writing about this time brings back those same feelings of sadness and anxiety.

So during this hotspot, I’ll be paying close attention to my emotional calendar. I promise to post an update about it after the holidays!

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