A Christmas ornament, a tree, and a stocking filled with candy canes is the stuff of Christmas dreams.
But the holidays are not all about decorations and decorations alone.
And what if, in addition to festive decorations, we wanted to celebrate with the family and friends that are most important in our lives?
That’s exactly what we did.
We are living in a time of transition in the Jewish community.
The pendulum has swung way back in the middle of the last century.
We have become increasingly aware of the need to embrace diversity, to be open-minded, and to look at the world with an open mind.
But these challenges require us to be more than just a “southern Jewish community” and a “Jewish nation.”
We must also be open to the ideas and perspectives of other communities, and we must make sure that our own are not lost in the shuffle.
When I was a child, we would watch our family and our friends, especially our grandparents, on Christmas day.
We were constantly reminded of the joy of the holidays, of the family holiday.
And when my family went to visit relatives in another state, we always made sure that we would spend the day together in a place that we were comfortable with.
We would spend time together in our homes, in our cars, and in our community.
But, we were never the only ones who were feeling festive.
As a young woman in my late 20s, I was particularly fond of Christmas trees and decorations.
It was the time of year that brought us together as a family, when we would visit family in different states.
I remember how happy I was when my sister’s parents came to visit her family in Massachusetts and to see the trees and the Christmas decorations on their farm.
I loved how the trees reminded me of the warm weather we were experiencing in Israel.
I also remember how my mother would get out of bed and visit the farm in a white coat.
My sister would always go into her room and sit on the bed with a little toy on the pillow.
And, the day before Christmas, I would take my mother out to eat dinner at a local restaurant.
It would always be the same, I’d go into my room, put on a Santa hat, and tell my mom I was glad she was getting to see my family again.
But then, I also noticed a change.
We didn’t see them anymore.
The holidays became more like a normal part of my life.
It became the year to celebrate.
It seemed to be a year when we were not really looking forward to the holidays at all.
And then, one day, I felt it.
I was sitting in my room and thinking about how it was the first time I had been truly happy for Christmas.
I had gone to dinner with my mother, my sister, and my two best friends, and I’d brought along a box of decorations to decorate my room.
I thought that if we all made a plan together to celebrate Christmas in a festive way, we could be happier for the rest of the year.
The next morning, my mother called to say that she would be going out to work.
I told her that I was going to go with my friends and the boys.
I didn’t want to be alone.
I decided to stay at home and have the boys come visit.
I made sure to tell my mother that I had a few friends and would be happy to see them later.
And when I got back to my room after the boys were gone, I went to my computer and looked at the news.
My mother and I were celebrating Christmas, with my brothers and sister, with friends and family.
My whole family seemed to agree.
But when I checked the calendar, I saw that my parents were still in Israel, my parents’ parents were away in Israel for a conference, and it was a busy Christmas day for my friends in New York.
My mom was not celebrating Christmas with us.
We had to leave Israel.
We had to celebrate together.
But Christmas was just the beginning.
My family began to feel the strain of the holiday.
They had been traveling to different states, from California to Florida to Texas, to celebrate their grandparents’ 80th birthday.
But we were still here.
I could no longer just go to my parents and say that we wanted a little holiday party.
We couldn’t just get up and go to a party and then leave.
I went to the office, and as I was coming in, my father said, “What about us?”
I said, “[The holiday] is the most important thing.”
And my father continued, “Christmas is the greatest celebration in the world.
What we have is a beautiful life, and when you celebrate it, you also give a gift to the world.”
And my father then said, [You] should take the rest [of the year] off.
We’re not celebrating