Rituals & Spirituality

The Spirit That Counts

When we were young, we approached the holidays with anticipation because we “knew” they contained magic. We believed in a world of open-ended possibilities.

But then we grew up, and we moved further and further away from such things and, sadly, from our natural, spiritual, way of being. As adults, too often we allow the expectations of others (parents, religious leaders, teachers, family, friends) to be placed upon us, along with the associated guilt, if we do not live up to them. For many, the holidays have become nothing more than pressure-filled weeks chocked full of check lists and coping mechanisms. And now, deep down, we feel that we have lost something and we don’t know what it is. [Read More…]

All I Want for Christmas Is (Watching and Raising) My Little Girl

Michelle eisler's kid IIIn November, my daughter went through the Target wish catalogue and slowly chose one or two things she wanted, and then she got on a roll and started putting stickers beside almost everything.  She asked if she could help decorate the house for Christmas, and to keep my sanity I sent her to help my husband put up a garland on our railing.

The tree was mostly done when she came back to help me, and I gave her some snowflakes to spread around randomly on the tree, she again stared off slowly. A few minutes later, I was finding snowflakes bunched on the same branches and all in a concentrated tiny section. The perfectionist in me twitched as I asked her if she could see anything she could change up and she replied ‘no’ with a big smile.

This year, I am seeing life through the eyes of my 5 year old.  I am continuing to educate myself to try to provide her with what she needs as she takes big leaps on her journey. [Read More…]

The Miracle of The (Multicultural) Holidays

Chanukah - ChristmasThis year I set up our Christmas tree and for the first time, I also put out my menorahs or as I’ve learned they are really called, Hanukkiahs.  I’m not Jewish and neither is my husband, but my kids are as they were born to a Jewish woman who was our traditional surrogate named Jessica, or fondly referred to as “Chava.”

We have blended our families and together we make up a large and diverse group of individuals – both in tradition and in heritage. But, in the end we are simply family.  And, during the holiday season no matter what traditions you follow, family, love and sweet fellowship are at the center of it all.

Since the beginning of our surrogacy journey, the connection between our future kids and Jessica, her family and her cultural and religious lineage were of the utmost importance to me.  I gratefully made it my job as their mom to teach my kids the traditions and beliefs that are practiced on all sides of their family.  Not just Christmas but also Hanukah, which is why I bought Hanukah candles while we were waiting for our photos with Santa.

[Read More…]

A Different Christmas (Celebrating with Stepfamilies)

DifferentChristmas1 The carols are playing, the decorations are up and strings of lights are strung over houses with care. It all seems rather normal, but for repartnered families having a first (or tenth!) Christmas together, it can feel pretty surreal. We share Christmas with my stepson’s mother.

One year he spends Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning with us and heads to his mother’s for the majority of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Vice versa the following year.

After 12 years and two other children, I still can’t decide which is more difficult. Having the joy of Christmas Eve with all of the spine-tingling Santa expectation and early morning waking to presents only to be followed by the letdown of him leaving for the rest of the day.

His absence a niggling presence in all that we do the rest of the day. Or the alternative of waking up to Christmas morning without him and having the long (feels-like-forever) wait until he gets home to let our family’s ‘real’ celebrations begin. [Read More…]

Kindly Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

Nicholas as a babyWith shopping, cooking, decorating, organizing, scheduling, mailing, and the balancing of familial personalities, holidays are not always as joyful as they are stressful. While the rest of us will be running around like chickens…or turkeys…with our heads cut off, my son will be awaiting the arrival of the red-suited man with the jolly laugh. I remember doing the same as a hopeful young boy.

I can remember the glory of Christmas Eve when I was a kid. The house was filled with green and red anticipation. Unmistakable seasonal aromas hung in the air in and around our cozy kitchen. My mom made pans upon pans of butterballs,date cookies and egg biscuits each in their own sugary powder or glaze. I’m not saying that family drama wasn’t going on around us, only that I cannot remember it from my blissfully ignorant rearview mirror. [Read More…]

How “Merry Christmas” Upset Me (And How I Got Over It)

Wendy Sue's chanukah II

 

How can the most wonderful holiday of the year upset me, you wonder?  Good question.

I grew up in a reform Jewish home, meaning it was more cultural than religious.  For me, the best part of growing up Jewish was the Jewish food, still is, actually!

In Edison, New Jersey, where I spent my childhood, all of my friends but one other Jewish girl, had Santa sliding down their chimneys to bring them gifts galore.  I looked outside our home to see if we had a chimney too, and wondered, “Why didn’t Santa come down ours?” [Read More…]

Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus

Lori's Christmas I

On the outside of the boxes it says “SANTAS” in bright red letters. The corners of the boxes are reinforced with duct tape, since the contents get a little heavier each year. A musty smell clings to these two hat-sized boxes. Now, however, it’s time for the boxes’ annual unveiling.

Opening the boxes, I touch crumbled tissue paper and old, yellowed newspaper. I unwrap the first one and smile. It is one of the 30 Santas—one for every year my husband and I have been together—that are nestled together for safekeeping. It’s Christmas time and here comes Santa Claus!

When I was newly engaged, my husband and I attended a family friend’s home for an annual Christmas get together. Going to “Mrs. J’s” house was always fun, delicious, and filled with laughter and memories of our childhood. That particular Christmas, I noticed her collection of Santas. [Read More…]

Chanukah and The Passing Down Of Traditions

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the many reasons I wanted to have children was to pass down traditions and have a lineage (I am the last remaining member of the Shapiro family).

On holidays such as Chanukah, I’m reminded of what these days mean to me – a remembrance of my childhood, a passing on of the torch, a recognition of the wonderment of it all, a celebration of both religious and familial practices.

This photo of my son, taken several years ago, is one of the first remembrances he has of Chanukah. The sheer joy and delight on his face still takes my breath away.

How much do we all remember, relive, and annually embrace our own holidays with that same wide-eyed wonder?

Having children brings long-forgotten images and memories back. During times like these, those memories are sometimes too precious and too yummy to forgo. I often tell my children that they will have this experience or that experience to share with their own children and grandchildren. I hope my son remembers this very moment when he celebrates with his “tooties” (translated: children) and his children’s “tooties.” He will, at least, have this photo to refer to.

In keeping with this joyous holiday season, I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Holiday… and a really special New Year.

My best,

Cyma Shapiro

By |December 16th, 2014|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Mothers Over 50, Rituals & Spirituality||1 Comment

Celebrating Multicultural Holidays In Our Home

Chanukah - ChristmasFor some reason, being the eldest daughter in a Jewish family, I always thought I should marry a Jewish man. Well, I fell in love with the most wonderful man in the world who happens to be the son of a retired-Episcopal minister.

I grew up celebrating Easter and Passover, Christmas and Hanukkah, even though I’m Jewish. I knew my folks would be fine with me marrying Tom; they knew we loved each other very much and they knew we both had good heads on our shoulders.  Our families welcomed our togetherness.  To culminate our union, we had a beautifully blended dual ceremony with an Episcopal minister and a Jewish friend (ordained minister) performing our service. [Read More…]

Sweatpantgiving

SweatpantsWe are quickly approaching the stimulus overload, food holidays. These holidays clash completely with my kids and their special needs.

In the short time my kids have been alive we have spent three holidays in an emergency room. Three.  The first one came as my youngest was just being diagnosed with his five anaphylactic food allergies. We were at the playground over a long holiday weekend.

My son, then a toddler, decided to sample a peanut butter sandwich that was on the tray of a stroller. He wound up having an anaphylaxis and I used his Epi-pen on him to save his life. Every single professional I encountered at the hospital told me over and over that I had saved my son’s life that day. It is something I can never forget. [Read More…]

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