This wasn’t a great Christmas. Wasn’t a great holiday season, honestly. I took the tree down yesterday afternoon, and felt a giant weight fall off of me.
I’m incredibly conflicted about the holidays, and vowing to stay the hell off the internet next year, from Thanksgiving to New Years. At least to avoid any blog posts or articles about Judaism and Christmas.
I like to communicate – which you probably know if you read this blog. I like to talk and to write and to share. It’s not just the sharing, because I’ve always written, and it’s not just the writing, because I love comments and interacting and sharing ideas. I love community, at the heart of it. I like finding people I agree with, and debating and discussing and analyzing and learning. I love reading things that are honest and real and true. I like knowing that people are reading what I write. What I don’t love is conflict and judgement and disapproval.
That’s what the holidays represented to me for me this year, conflict and judgement and disapproval. From the embrace of celebrating Thanksgiving and Hanukkah together (which made no sense to me – why was that okay but celebrating my secular Christmas and Hanukkah such a sin?), to the article on kveller that I wrote about the interfaith message, and the firestorm of comments that followed it, including the response from the rabbi bemoaning the spiritual future of my children. It just felt… like nobody liked what I was doing, and I was isolated and kind of alone out here.
I don’t like feeling alone. I’m Jewish, but I’m also a woman who grew up celebrating other holidays. Judaism is another step on my journey, and one that I’m profoundly grateful I was able to take. Judaism is the path I’ve chosen for my future and for raising my children. But I still value my past, and the way that I was raised. Christmas is a part of who I am, and it’s part of who my children are. Negating that isn’t true, and I refuse to live my life according to rules that have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with fitting in and following the party line.
So I’m saying goodbye to Christmas 2013. I’ll do a final postmortem, and try to figure out why this year was so tough and how I can avoid that next year. I loved writing the posts that I did, and I loved, loved, loved the feedback from other Jews who emailed me and told me that they felt empowered and validated. I loved knowing that my journey might make it a little easier for someone on a similar path. I don’t want to stop writing about Christmas and Judaism. But maybe next year, I vow to NOT read the comments. Ever. To not engage people who openly judge and disapprove of me, and just let that be their problem and not mine.
Next year, I’ll try harder to celebrate to take back Christmas for me. To not feel… so vulnerable.
And now we move onto January. I love January. Not only is it my birthday month (40 this year!!) but it’s the start of the new year all around. I’m all over Rosh Hashana as a Jewish New Year, but January is always going to be month of beginnings for me. I feel like forty is such a milestone birthday – I’m both completely looking forward to it and feeling compelled to spend some time reflecting on the last forty years, and what I’d like for the next forty.