Covid, Christmas & Crazy Cousin Jimmy: Transforming Holidays Into Holy Days 

Giving Presence This Holiday Season

One year ago we were all going about our holiday season, business as usual. Our worries hovered around what to get the kids, whether or not our sister would show at the holiday party if she knew our brother was going to be there; and the perennial question as to whether or not crazy cousin Jimmy would get loaded on eggnog, spout off his extreme politics and alienate everyone else, again?

You know, normal, routine, mundane crap.

Who knew that one year later we would miss, even long for, the “normal” crap.

Now, our siblings would love to see one another, and we’d love to see them, bickering and all. Our kids would probably forego presents in exchange for playdates, parties, or a trip to the mall and a movie. And Jimmy, well, he’s still a pain in the ass, and not having to invite him over this year is probably the only silver lining in this global pandemic.

Seriously, the last holiday season feels like dog years. Most everything we thought was important, troubling, or in store for us in 2020, went away with the virus, was turned over by the riots, and went up in forest fire smoke.

Some of us have lost loved ones. Many of us have lost our jobs. All of us have lost some degree of security, comfort, and hope.

And yet…

And yet, this is by far the most important and blessed holiday season in our lifetime. Never before in modern history, perhaps since World War II and the devastation that entailed, has the world felt this darkened, desperate and deadly. Never before have we needed what the holidays are all about. Never before have we had a chance to fully experience them, internalize them and embody them; not really, not like this.

We’re not talking about binge eating fruit cakes or binge-watching Hallmark channel movies. This isn’t about overspending on stocking stuffers or coming to fisticuffs over that last Cabbage Patch doll at Toys R Us (OK that was a PTSD induced flashback).

This may be the stuff of last year’s holiday season, however, what a blessing to be able to leave that crap behind.

Finally, we have a chance to ditch the holidays in exchange for the Holy Days!

Chanukah and Christmas are indeed holy days.

Each one comes, not coincidentally, around the winter solstice. Why? Because each one is a spiritual response to the darkest days of the year.

Although they may have very different cultural, religious and historical significance, Christmas and Chanukah are about facing the darkness, entering the darkness and illuminating the darkness with light.

Christmas lights are hung from the house. The lights of the Chanukah menorah are supposed to be placed in the window for all to see.

Each group may have come to it for different reasons, however, what we share is a primal knowing that when the darkness descends, we have a mission to illuminate the darkness, not simply for ourselves, but for others. It’s not enough to keep the light on the inside. We are obligated to shine it out into the world for anyone, and everyone, in need.

Chanukah, Christmas and this Holy Day Season is simply a reminder that in times of darkness we need to throw open the curtains and offer our illumination for those out in the cold, wandering alone in the darkness.

During this time of pandemic darkness, let’s transform the tragedy into an opportunity, and what feels like a curse into what could be a blessing.

Let’s reclaim the true message of Chanukah and Christmas, not as consumer binging, but consciousness bringing – bringing hope, help and light to those in need.

Let’s use this year to jettison the holiday season and take back the holy day season.​In the words of a great kabbalist, Schneur Zalman of Liadi,“a little light dispels a lot of darkness.”​So let’s get back some of that Christmas spirit. Let’s reclaim a bit of that Chanukah chutzpah. Let’s get back to our true mission as Jews, Christians, Americans and human beings, and dispel a lot of darkness through each of us sharing a little bit of light.

May this be a year of light for you, yours and ours – all of ours, and yes, even for crazy cousin Jimmy, too!

Happy Chanukah. Merry Christmas & Have A Meaningful Holy Day Season​