Although I believe that this time of year can be hard for many people for many reasons, I was surprised to discover how relatively few articles there are offering tips to reduce stress at this time of year. So I laughed out loud when I saw a comment somewhere on-line that said “Want to avoid Christmas stress? Stay Jewish.”
For me, growing up with one parent who was Jewish, the other Catholic, Christmas won. That is, my family decorated a tree, left cookies for Santa and inevitably had some kind of painful fight before the day was done.
By the time I left home, I’d had it with Christmas. I just didn’t like the various pressures, the crazy-making swing between expectations and disappointments, the invisibility of the Jewish part of my heritage, and the general atmosphere of not-enough-ness — not enough presents, money spent, love connections, laughter, and well, Joy.
So when a dear Native American friend told me that she found it odd that the dominant culture here held a “give away” (gift exchange) during a season when the natural world was pared down to its least abundance, I began to think about what this season of Winter Solstice, the day that are more hours of night than sunlight, might hold for me, I began to align with what the true gift of this season might hold for me.