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Sunday December 24, 2006 // By Sandy

The true meaning of Christmas

The beauty of being a Jew in Christmastime is the pleasure of a day or three off with absolutely no obligations whatsoever. No gifts to buy, no dinners to attend, no family to visit. And with most friends preoccupied in just these pursuits, available options range from sitting around and reading to sitting around and watching a movie. And this is certainly a Good Thing.

Yet, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before, and as I’m sure I’ll mention again, I am biologically unable to withstand the unscheduled life. The prospect of a day without obligations is pleasant to me as long as it remains a prospect; as soon as the day arrives, I spend the entire time watching the clock making sure I make the most efficient use of every hour. And then I get down on myself when I don’t. It’s awful.

I’ve read up on this kind of behavior, and on how to excise it from my life. It’s difficult, because the cure is entirely mental. It’s about a shift in thinking: what used to feel like a waste I must now relabel as healthy. If I believe it’s healthy, the thinking goes, then healthy it will be. And more calm I will be.

So this weekend I’ve been trying to do that. Christmas weekend used to be such a joyous time when I was a Jewish kid growing up the ‘burbs. Main reason: nothing to do. For the past couple days, any time I feel my anxiety start to ramp up because I’m feel I’m not getting shit done, I take a breath and remember what this time of year used to feel like as a 14-year-old. It works usually; the nerves calm down, and then I go and do whatever the heck I feel like.

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