Are You Shopping?
We are in the middle of the last minute shopping craze worldwide as people attempt to make their last minute holiday purchases. Whether it is for Hanukah or Christmas, the Hanukahmas/Christmukkah marathon has begun. It truth it began several months ago but it will reach its frenzy in the next thirty-six hours. What are you shopping for this year?
Some of us are extremely organized (spell that obsessively compulsive) about the holidays and began our shopping in July. Others enjoy the thrill and risk of last minute shopping. Some will simply not be bothered and feel themselves to be above all the commercial mayhem that accompanies this time of year. In truth, however, we are all shopping. We go through each day shopping for grace.
Hanukah will begin this year on December 24th, the day also known as Christmas Eve. This is only the fourth time in a century that the two holidays are occurred on the same day. The Jewish Museum in Berlin has made note of the two holidays in their exhibit “Chrismukkah: Stories of Christmas and Hanukkah.” The exhibit discusses how interfaith families celebrated the two holidays, being respectful and showing grace for all. “A Christmas celebration with a tree, songs, and gifts became a symbol of being a part of German culture for many middle-class Jewish families in the 19th century. Jews celebrated Christmas as a secular ‘festival of the world around us’ without religious meaning, or they transferred Christmas customs to the Hanukkah festival. This mixture was and is referred to as ‘Chrismukkah.’”
Christmas is considered the light at the end of the dark Advent time of preparation and Hanukah celebrates the miracle of one day’s worth of oil lasting for eight days. The conflict between celebrating these two holidays has been termed the “December Dilemma” but I think we need to turn our thinking around and call it the “December Elegance.” We also need to live it every day, not just in December.
Elegance is a word that brings to mind luxury, sophistication, indulgence and amenity. These are all aspects of grace as well. We all really have the luxury of sharing grace one with another. It does require a sophisticated way of interacting but it is not that difficult or complicated. When we indulge in living with grace and showing and sharing it with others, we create an environment of amenity and it all combines for greater facilitation of living and effective outcomes. It is what most of us spend our lives shopping for – respect, grace, and love, the hallmarks of both holidays.
We all give each other the gift of time, although sometimes that gift is done in a backwards way with no time allotted. We may think we are too busy but really – can any of us afford to be too busy for life? Grace is about giving another person respect and kindness. Maybe this year, instead of shopping for a sweater, you can give someone a gift that truly will impact their life forever. The gift of “chesed” or kindness is always in fashion. Perhaps your family might do something together for others. Lomed, the Hebrew word for learning, is also something we can share, both by doing and by example. It can be shopping at the bookstore for a new book or two, one for each family member and one to donate.
The word “Hanukah” translates as dedication and there is no better time to dedicate yourself to living grace than this time of year. Christmas means the birth of the One who personified love and there is also no better time to show love one to another. The December Dilemma is really just an opportunity to embrace grace and gift it to another. That makes your life most elegant and really costs us nothing but positive interactions and living. Next time you head out to go shopping, remember that the best gift of all is the gift of grace. Share it and it will be returned to you. That will brighten the darkness of life and lead us towards a better tomorrow.