Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coming to a heavyhearted end.

It's odd to hear Christmas carols sung by my kids, with their Israeli accents. "Pa chru-pa-poom-poommm..." " 've a Jolly Jolly Christmas....." (that one sounding kinda British, actually). They sing "Jingle Bells" really cutely, and are just in general into the christmas lights and trees and such. They didn't grow up with it, as a Jewish person, piped into their lives every living breath. I had to sing them all the time, and play them in winter fest concerts at my schools. Hundreds of them. I have such mixed feelings about it all. I definitely feel the nostalgic aspect, being that I know all the words and all the songs, and grew up seeing and feeling the specialness of the holiday season. At the same time, I feel a bit sad that this is what I was surrounded with, whether or not it was my religion. It's actually kind of like a contempt of sorts; deeply troubled about the comparison between christmas and chanukah, as if they are equivalent. Like Chanukah is the Jewish Christmas. That is how is the majority of people understand the two holidays occuring around the same time, both with a tradition of gift giving.

But I think this gift-giving has gotten out of hand, actually. I wish my kids didn't get so many toys and things on this trip. Many were not actually from us, though, but a not-so-small amount were from us. I actually didn't buy much for myself. I tried a lot on, and sometimes it was just that nothing fit right, but fairly often I put things back on racks because I don't need more stuff. I am happy with what I have. In many, many areas of my life. Baruch Hashem.

There has been something about this trip that has left kind of a sour taste in my... soul?
I don't know if I can pinpoint it all, but I'll try.
There is a feeling of everything being disposable. That shopping is #1, and buying beautiful things on a regular basis is normal. Spending large sums of money on what is entirely insignificant or redundant is acceptable, and, in fact, the norm. Mind you, I am hanging out in some pretty ritzy places on Long Island. Maybe that's why. We have shopped a lot, and I haven't really been enjoying it. I *want* to enjoy it, but it is so frenetic and crowded with Christmas coming, and I'd rather other, quiet, more enjoyable things to do with my family. Or to see more family and friends. I didn't get to see any of my early-childhood friends on this trip- that makes me really sad. I want to share our lives together, and there just wasn't the time this trip. (but I am soooo grateful to have seen the few I was fortunate enough to catch-- the Baker sisters, for one. :))

We did see family, as I said in the blogs previous to this one, but even that, not everyone. That wasn't for lack of trying, though! The snow got in the way of some close relatives getting to meet us. That was disappointing. Although my desert-dwelling children loved the snow!

I guess I'm feeling kinda melancholy. The trip is coming to an end, and it wasn't actually such an easy one, on many levels. We all try our best, and what happens at the end is the reality that must be accepted. I've been faced with some new realities on this trip, and I am working on accepting them.

At least my health remained stable. Nothing got worse, thank Gd. At the beginning of the trip, actually, my pain was *less*. That was remarkable to me. As things went on, though, it started to take it's toll on my leg, and my energy levels and headaches. Yesterday, after being at the New York aquarium at Coney Island, then going to a party at my cousin's house, my leg felt like it was sort of disembodied. The aquarium was **so** crazy cold, but we stayed outside a lot seeing the walrus and sea-lion shows. They were so awesome! :) I learned that weather changes really effect my hip pain! My stomach continues to cause me trouble. Gotta go through some more tests when I get home to get to the bottom of that. (pun intended... heheheh)

Going to bed now at almost 3am, two days before we come home. It's been good, it's been tough, and there has been a lot of love.

Ya just gotta sift through the hard stuff and appreciate the good luvin' stuff that remains.


  1. Sarah, I relate totally to the shopping/commercialism. Every time I'm in North America now it saddens me to see just how much STUFF there is for sale everywhere. It literally makes me feel sick. Then I get used to it and find myself buying far too much. Sometimes I miss not being able to get things I want in NZ, but it is so much healthier a lifestyles to not have everything available and disposable.

  2. take with you all the warmth from your dear family and friends! what a blessing that you were feeling pretty good on the trip/ you should have a complete refua and yeshous in Israel/ have a safe trip home. rochel.

  3. We do live in a disposable culture. Don't like it? Throw it away and get something new.

    Outside of the barrage of Christianity is Chanukah celebrated much differently here than in Israel? Does your family do things differently here because of influence of Christmas?

  4. I generally hate shopping and the entire "holiday cheer" (yes, call my Scrooge) and I am so grateful that this year Chanukah came way before Christmas, and I could avoid feeling part of that commercialism and subsequent melancholy you described. I try not to venture out to the malls unless I have to. This year for Chanukah we kept it really simple, and the children gave gifts to each other, and the focus was on Divrei Torah and on the miracles that Hashem did for us. I avoid the shopping frenzy because funds are extremely limited (as it is directed towards Yeshiva education), and that is an added stress none of us need. I am grateful for what we have, and know that a) we need very little b) acquiring things brings on a feeling of emptiness, and lack of satisfaction in the end. And trying to get the perfect gift for someone is stressful and time consuming and prone to disappointment (theirs and mine.) So, here in America, we strive for spiritual wholeness too and try not to give into the pressures of consumerism. With that said, the truth is that Christmas music is often very beautiful and lingers in my mind all year long, and I have mixed feelings about that too.

    Sare, I tried to reach you, I would love to speak on the phone, could you please call me? I miss you and your mishpacha. You haven't posted any pictures!


    Dev from NJ