How I’m managing Christmas stress this winter
Posted on December 15th, 2014
Earlier in the year, pH asked if we could celebrate Hanukkah this year, and I said, sure, why not? We’re secular humanists. I’m pretty sure I can’t get mumming to take off in my neighborhood, so why hadn’t I thought of this before?
Also, holidays–really, November through March–were/are emotionally devastating for me. I figured it was worth a shot. (Shout out to terrible upbringing here.)
Now, bear in mind that, and it is no fault of theirs, I have Jewish friends, but I know almost nothing about Hanukkah except:
- Maccabees were involved;
- A small quantity of oil lasted for eight days;
- Potatoes are fried, and everyone knows good things happen when potatoes are fried and I am not allergic to potatoes yet;
- There’s a menorah, candles, and fire involved in celebrating; and
- In reality, this is not a big Jewish holiday, but it became a bigger deal to compete with Christmas in the US.
While I was verbally castigating myself for not knowing more, kH pointed out that the story is in the Apocrypha, specifically Maccabees. kH actually told me the whole story involving the Greeks and the battles and all that and now that I have looked it up to write this post, I see he was spot on. Nice work, kH.
Also bear in mind that I have gone out of my way to not use this as an educational experience. What? Have I lost my mind? Well, maybe. I figured 1) pH doesn’t care about the religious or historical nuance at this point, but just this eight days of gifts thing, and 2) I’m trying to de-stress my holidays. kH can explain the Maccabees and the Temple and the Greeks and…I’ll let her play with fire.
My holiday stress (other than the potential for an inferno)?
Nil. Nada. Zip. Bupkis.
I have two gifts I haven’t even taken out of the boxes to wrap yet. Heck, I can save ’em til the end!
All those containers of Christmas memorabilia and decorations? They’re somewhere in the storage locker. Or a closet. I don’t know. I don’t miss them. Advent calendar? I did not have to stress about getting the right Playmobil Advent calendar, locating a decent price, or ordering it in time. That was priceless. Not counting down the days to THE EVENT has been amazing. (It is somewhat annoying that Hanukkah ends on Christmas eve, but I’m not sure pH is onto that yet…even so, we will cope.) If there’s any holiday gift letdown, pH just has to wait til the next day and hope it’s better.
I ordered a menorah. (The one pictured, because I liked the walls of Jerusalem and I like the Hamsa because I like the Hand of Fatima, too, and I just like the hand, okay?)
In any case.
Once we’d decided on celebrating Hanukkah, I became offended by Christmas. Really offended. Appalled by the excess and the pressure and the stress. I had the zeal of the newly converted, except I hadn’t experienced a conversion. Christmas crap is EVERYWHERE. Salvation Army people and their Merry Christmases? I shamed one with a Happy Hanukkah and then felt guilty for hours because according to 23andme, I only have .5% Sephardic DNA, so where do I get off? (I still feel bad about this.)
So with apologies to my Jewish friends and readers who are probably cringing at the way we’re doing this completely incorrectly…we are very much looking forward to tomorrow at sundown. Except that will be during a swim lesson, so it’ll be a little after sundown. Like I said, we’re winging it.
And I seriously can’t believe we never thought of this before. It’s, well, heavenly.