Sunday, December 26, 2010
The Christmas spirit is such a good thing. I'm talking about the idea that around this time of year it's best to be jolly, generous, forgiving and loving. I approve of the custom of just stopping, for an entire day, to rejoice with family and dear ones, exchange gifts, feast, laugh and appreciate the beauty of life.
Christmas is like a once-a-year Shabbat. We Jews are supposed to observe a day like Christmas every week, minus the presents, tree and funny sweaters. Can you imagine? Once a week we're supposed to stop our normal routines, cease and desist with our overarching love of working our asses off, resist the urge to quarrel with each other, light candles, feast with our families. We are supposed to live as if the world were absolutely perfect. After sundown on Saturday we can go back to squabbling, complaining, and working way too hard - if we want to that is.
I kept Shabbat once upon a time for a whole year, in penance for tossing a copy of the Torah into the trash. It's a long story. The way I observed Shabbat, somewhat arbitrarily (but it worked for me) was like this: I lit the sabbath candles every Friday night, also I didn't buy anything or drive my car until sundown Saturday night. The self-enforced break from all the usual sturm und drang of it all was absolutely fabulous. Restorative, encouraging, beautiful. The practice was a great reminder that life doesn't always have to be about running errands.
Once my year of observance was complete, I went back to my old habits. I wonder why? I wonder why I don't figure out some way to observe Shabbat fully and completely now? It's such a GREAT practice, such a radical idea, to take a load off once in awhile. Sheesh.
I'm thinking about it this morning because yesterday I observed Christmas fully and completely. Blew off all routines, lit candles, sang songs to myself. I joined friends to feast and watch movies all afternoon. We drank delicious drinks and ate delicious foods, toasted our beloved departed, regaled each other with stories.
We homo sapiens are such busy animals. It's good to stop every now and then, it really is. Shalom.