“It’s the most lonely time of the year”

Some of the first songs I learned by heart were Christmas carols – the religious ones, not the cutesy ones with animal voices the radio overplays. This is because my first “debut” as an actress was as an angel in the town Christmas pageant when I was eight. I grew up loving those songs, envying lit-up trees, gobbling up cookies and eggnog. But what those festivities lead up to is always, without fail, the loneliest day of the year.

It was lonely when I didn’t have a lot of Jewish friends to commiserate with, but the ones I did have had their own plans with their Temple youth groups that I was not a part of. It’s lonely still when other Christians talk about the traditions that mean so much to them, but I can’t get in the same spirit because making traditions as an adult is harder; they don’t just happen. They are cultivated over a period of years, often starting from childhood. Making up traditions as a grown-up just isn’t as fun.

I was twenty-three years old the first time I decorated a tree, and ran around my boyfriend’s house on Christmas Day in red pajamas shouting “SANTA CAME! SANTA CAME!” because Jewish kids never got to do that.

It’s safe to say that Christmas, the season (ie: Advent) is completely separate from December 25th (which we know isn’t Jesus’ real birthday anyway). I loathe December 25th today as I did growing up: everything is closed; there are only Christmas movies on TV; no one around to hang out with. Sure, I could look at it as just another day to read in my favorite chair in my pajamas all day, but somehow it’s different when I choose to do that on my own volition, not because there’s nothing else to do instead. Run out of a kitchen staple, like milk or pretzels? Too bad, you’re stuck.

So yes, I am a Grinch who hates Christmas. But I have always loved Advent: the anticipation of the birth of salvation.

This year’s Advent will be my hardest, as my mid-faith crisis is in full swing. But the songs I learned as a child are still just as beautiful, particularly this line from O Holy Night: Chains shall he break/for the slave is our brother.

I have my concerns about how reasonable it is to believe that a virgin woman conceived a baby, and that baby was raised from the dead after he was crucified as an adult. I have so many questions the Bible doesn’t directly answer, but I love the Christmas season for reminding me of what matters most in this life. For a time, I have renewed faith that mankind is something unique and precious – not doomed from the beginning of existence. It takes a great deal of faith to believe that. It makes me wish that Advent could last year-round.

Since I have yet to find a new church home, it’s still Chinese food and a movie for me this year. Actually, the Chinese food is mandatory no matter what traditions might develop throughout my life. There may not be much spirituality in that, but there is camaraderie, and that to me is compatible with the meaning of Christmas.


7 thoughts on ““It’s the most lonely time of the year””

  1. The USA celebrates Xmas. What are ya gonna do? I bought a mega tin of holiday popcorn at the superstore, and it had a kosher hechsher! A picture of Santa and a white, steepled church – and a hechsher. Too funny. Holiday Envy is also a Jewish tradition in America.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even as a Baptist preacher’s grandson somewhere around 10:30 on Christmas day it would hit me. All my friends are stuck inside with their families too. Now I loved my parents and my older brother usually took the day off from torturing me but parents are, well, parents. Where I grew up it snowed A LOT (NW Pennsylvania) so new sleds and saucers meant some kids would make their way outside eventually but none of us wanted to be the first and only one at “the jump” (a great sledding hill with a bump that propelled us into the air). After lunch it didn’t matter though, we all packed up and drove the 20 miles to grandma’s and all the cousins were there to exchange gifts. We always took along the sleds and saucers though because aunts and uncles were, well, aunts and uncles.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Chinese food and a movie sounds like a great way to spend Christmas.Since my grandmother passed my family and I have had to basically reinvent how we do each holiday since they always used to revolve around going to Granny’s house and her cooking. I should try to convince my sister to skip cooking this year and just order Chinese food. It’s so much simpler.

    Liked by 1 person

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