Holy days. Not holi-daze.




If your holiday season feels to you to be more holidaze than holy days, ‘tis on you, my friend.

I’m sorry. Well, kinda. It is. Right? The thing that is keeping you from having “the most wonderful time of the year” is part brain chemistry and part you.

The ridiculous lack of sunlight – depending, of course, on where you live – has an effect on us. But depressed and hibernating or not, we can still do our part and focus our attention where we want.

The only one who can make your holidays feel wonderful – holy – is you.

You can bring holiness to this time of year.
(Of course, you can bring holiness at any time, but I don’t want to get carried away. And, while we are in a parenthetical, allow me to define holiness: something set aside, sanctified, special.

Here is a list of how to bring more to gift-giving.

1 – Make a list of the people you want to (or at the very least, feel socially obligated to) get gifts for
2 – Put a ☆ next to the name of each person who might enjoy a symbolic gift rather than something bigger, faster, newer, shinier, easier. (Enough already, right?)
3 – Next to the name of each person who would like a thing gift, write what they would want
4 – Write a note to everyone next to whose name you put a star. Something like this, “I’ve been thinking and decided that I wanted to give you something different this year – something that has more meaning.”
5 – Take a clean piece of paper and brainstorm symbolic gifts you can give:
– a donation to a charity in their honor (Planned Parenthood, a local school, ROTB)
– a picture of you and the homeless person to whom you just gave $50 after buying them a cup of coffee. (Obviously, handle the selfie idea and gifting with care and compassion.)
– a bauble that is in your house that you don’t need and know that they would appreciate
– a certificate redeemable for a homecooked meal
– a check for $200 with a note, “Use to spread holiness this holy day season.”

This is just one set of ideas with regard to gifts.
Allow me to expand upon a bit

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk asked a group, “Where is God?”

Their response, “The whole earth is filled with God’s glory.” (In less Biblical words they said, “God is everywhere.”)

“No!” exclaimed the famous teacher, “God is only wheresoever humanity allows God in.”

How true. How true!

So, it is with holiness.

This season is not holy.
Nothing is holy.

Unless we see it as such.

This moment – this very moment, if we look at it right – is filled with awe and wonder.
It takes setting your selves and our agenda aside. It takes re-focusing or un-focusing. It takes some practice. But, we can find holiness.

It’s hard in the winter season. (And, for many people, adding family of origin dynamics makes it harder.)   But, it’s here.

Holiness. It’s around us. If only we make space for it. If only we allow it.

You and I can bring holiness to these days.




Note from rB
I still remember when I was 12 and my dad’s mom made a donation to the synagogue in my honor. I used to joke that this is why I became a rabbi – so that I could get to that money. I am only telling you this because it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted an electronic keyboard. Kids don’t always appreciate the symbolic gifts. ☆


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