My post last week about Hanukah mentioned that “[s]ome nights the whole family isn’t together and the night is a little less festive but the lights are still there, shining.” I guess (well, I’m sure) I was missing having children in the house, since our son is out in the world and our daughter was still a few days away from coming home from her semester in Paris. But it’s better now, since somehow, some way, the travel stars aligned and she made it home through last weekend’s winter storm.
So Hanukah is over, and the Christmas break is upon us. Even though it isn’t my holiday, I try to take the vacation to truly enjoy our family and our friends. How we do that has changed over the years – I remember many New Year’s Eves with four or five little kids and babies asleep in a bedroom with parents celebrating together at someone’s home. There were family trips to New England, complete with skiing down those icy slopes. (My skiing career ended one Christmas Day at the bottom of Butternut Mountain with a young man standing over me asking, “Ma’am? Ma’am, are you okay?” I was fine, but my pride never recovered.) Our winter vacations have certainly changed as our kids have grown, but the most important thing is to be together.
And, especially in years like this, where Hanukah is over, all the gifts have been distributed and the last package has been wrapped, it’s a little easier to focus on what matters. Whatever looks like family to you, no matter the distance between you and yours, it is life-affirming to find a way to be with those who matter most to us. We certainly learned about communicating long-distance with our daughter – check out Skype and all the other video links – so there’s more than one way to make contact. While the Jewish family has become more fragmented in the last couple of decades, it is still the initial unit of Jewish life. Take the time to find a way to celebrate your family, whatever its configuration, however far-flung its members may be.
Wishing you a joyful, restful, meaningful time with family and friends –