Christmas at the Hemingway Birthplace Home where I was fortunate to have been writer-in-residence four years ago!

Giving up Christmas is one of the advantages of converting to Judaism, at least in my experience. When people hear that I converted, the first question is often, “Don’t you miss Christmas?” And when I reply that I don’t, they usually look at me in disbelief. “Really? How could you not miss Christmas?”

My story about how all that happened appeared in Tablet a few years ago, see Giving Up Christmas. It is also a chapter in my memoir Jumping Over Shadows.

But, as life goes on, that’s not where the story ends. These days, in the run up to Christmas, I’m wondering why I am so stressed. Chanukah is already over, so I shouldn’t be. Alas, I don’t live in Israel, the only Jewish country in the world. I live in America, where

Christmas reigns supreme.

That means I still have holiday parties to attend because that’s what one does around here. I still have a plethora of Christmas gifts to procure, wrap and bestow on the lovely people that make up my support network: the cleaning lady, the building engineer, maintenance guy, property manager, doctor, therapist, trainer, etc.

I already bowed out of the gift exchange at work. And I’m failing to mail gifts to the few friends abroad whom I usually gift at this time but I simply can’t pull it off this year. Thanks to my hip surgery in July, my stamina is simply not restored yet, and I have to let a few things fall by the wayside. I can’t do it all. I’m happy when I can go to work and stay there all day and get my stuff done without having to lie down. Thus my modus operandi has changed this year!

On top of the holiday obligations, there’s my husband’s birthday in December, as well as my daughter’s, and that of my two nephews…

And then there’s all that end-of-year stuff that needs to get done, while regular life goes on. Can you tell I’m stressed? Anyway, I don’t mean to dump my stress on you, dear reader, I’m just saying we’re in all this together, whether Christmas is a thing or not. I’m carrying my to-do list around with me everywhere I go, and I’m happy when I can cross off an item. I write everything down because alas, I have mental overload these days.

I may have given up Christmas, but it still catches up with me.

PS: One of the end-of-year tasks I’m working on is my Writer’s Workbook 2019 – stay tuned for its release next Friday, December 21!