Personally, I’ve never believed that things like race or background or religion should have much bearing on anything. We’re all cut from the same cloth, when you really break it down—one very mismatched and beautifully diverse cloth. And there’s no other time when that’s more apparent to me than during the holidays. Although for the purposes of what I’m talking about here, it’s important, I think, to make a full personal disclosure before I really get going. And in a minute, you’ll understand why.
I’m a Jew. J-O-O. I celebrate Chanukah. I have mad dreidel skills, much like the street hustlers in Times Square. And I’ve been Bat Mitzvahed by a legit rabbi. Yet, as Jewish as I am, I somehow feel this kindred connection to every major religious holiday around this time of the year. So much so, in fact, that as I sit here typing in front of the fire, I’m actually listening to the Andy Williams Christmas album on Pandora. Swear to God.
See, the truth is, once we round the holiday corner after Thanksgiving, our house might as well be a ginormous Bloomingdale’s elevator playing a continuous Muzak track of nothing but holiday music, because I find the overall spirit of the holiday season completely contagious. And it isn’t just any one aspect of the holidays, like the food or the decorations or the music, it’s all the moving parts of all the holidays put together. If it’s branded for the holidays—any holiday—then my knees buckle for it.
It doesn’t matter to me that I’m Jewish and I have very traditionally Jewish traditions and values. I mean, it matters, obviously, and I recognize and practice those things faithfully because I love being a Jew. But I become kind of a holiday slut around this time of year—pimping myself out to anything that spreads any kind of good cheer. If it’s in any way designed with holiday spirit in mind, I just can’t help myself.
The thing is, while I’ve always been a very loyal, very devoted Jew, something comes over me around this time of year. There’s an internal shift that happens. It’s like, for the months of November and December, I become this non-denominational, completely universal Holidayist—a person who feeds off the contagious mood of all the happy, spirited people around me. (Yes, I did just make that up. And no, there’s no annual membership fee.)
To me, it really doesn’t matter that I have no idea what most of the rites and rituals of the other holidays are. All I see is raw spirit. Raw joy. Raw good will. Raw peace and love.
As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter what holiday you celebrate, because the kind of crude, uncontaminated spirit that I’m talking about exists at the core of every holiday and is fully transferable from faith to faith. So much so that I truly believe, on some level, most of us are Holidayists at heart.
I see people everywhere this time of year tapping their toes and humming in line waiting for their lattes. People smiling and holding doors open for people for absolutely no reason. People feeling and acting and sounding grateful. And I love it. I love everything about it. In fact, even though it sounds completely corny to say, I’d love to just bottle whatever it is and drip drops of it all over people in like September, when the holiday cache is light.
It’s because peace, love, and joy are completely free and totally nondenominational that there’s so much of it floating around. Anyone can share spirit because spirit is universal in its purest form. And the true essence of goodwill and joy that most people feel is so infectious that it just elevates peoples’ consciousness. People absorb it in such concentrated quantities during the holidays that it’s like society as a whole is ODing. And that’s what I love about it. It’s like everyone is mainlining this super-potent drug all at the same time. And everyone is feeling the same effects: happiness, gratitude, and joy.
This time of year, regardless of what or how you celebrate, is about counting your blessings. And blessings are universal, so every one of us can count them.
The season is about spreading joy and promoting peace and scattering love as far as you can. And it doesn’t matter what language you speak, or who your God is, or what symbol you wear around your neck. Regardless of whether you eat potato latkes or ham or collard greens with red onions and bacon, a holiday is a holiday is a holiday. And spirit is spirit.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m a Holidayist. Maybe the first official one, actually. So pay attention to everything around you this season. Listen to all the songs and be open to all the vibes. Because I’m pretty sure that once they seep in, you’ll realize you’ve probably been a Holidayist all along, too.