The Holiday Season 2020
It's that time of year again. But as with all things this year, 2020 puts its own spin on things.
For my part, this year I have been honoring some of my Jewish ancestry. I actually celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year, as well as Sukkot and Hanukah. I've also been marking Shabbat, albeit not in any sort of Orthodox fashion. I attend temple online (pandemic, y'all!), and I read my copy of Etz Hayim my rabbi recommended. That's another thing: I have been guided in this journey by a very nice rabbi, and she has been an excellent source of wisdom during this exploration.
Which is all relevant because now we're in the Christmas season, and I am very firmly in the non-Christian camp. I've always been in the agnostic/non-denominational/sceptic gang, but this year with Judaism I'm theistic, and very much in the Hebrew camp. This position makes me see things through a relief that's novel. For instance, the repetitive and dominant Christian themes that get echoed loudly for weeks on end. As someone who is not a Christian it gets a bit much. Especially during Hanukah when people would tell me "Merry Christmas!" and I replied with a "Happy Hanukah!" in an effort to remind them that other faiths exist, and hey! they're celebrating a holiday now, too! I won't debate the entire theology, but this narrative and culture gets promulgated pretty hard, and I don't think a lot of people actually question what they're being told.
Christianity is great, and this is not an attack on that religion. Worship the Christ, and all that. Commercialism and Christmas are an obvious and oft-called out pairing. That's tacky, and I agree. In 2020, though, it might not be a good idea to prop up your local community with some liquid cash since the government doesn't seem too interested. They've shut down California for safety, and there are bodies piling up around the country. People still gotta eat, though, they gotta pay those bills. It's a no-win situation for a lot of folks. I don't blame people who feel aggrieved over the economic impacts that resulted from the safety-based protocol.
In that regard I have been spared much distress since I have a steady State job and Union backing. I also purchased my home this year, which brings me a modicum of stability (if not a greater sense of responsibility). I am very much cash poor, but I have enough to get by, and when I invest in things around the house, I invest in myself. The house is also a welcome distraction during lock down when social interaction is extremely limited. Even when I do go out in Grass Valley I avoid big crowds, I always wear a mask near others, and I am very loathe to be inside for any duration without my mask on.
The State closed our offices earlier this month, and doesn't have any plans to reopen them any time before the end of December. I question that timeline, however, given that many people will probably be congregating in the days immediately prior (you know, the reason for the season) so it would seem counterproductive to then bring people back together after such events when the whole point is to limit contact. But who knows? With the talk of a vaccine, we may be back in the office sooner than many people think. Or not, if the situation changes. That's been the lesson of 2020.
Speaking of Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemics and the intersectionality of politics, remember when Trump said that it would just magically go away? The man gets away with so much, but just that now in the cold light of winter should have the man ridden out of town on a rail. But he won't, because 2020. I am in the camp that thinks Donald Trump either forts up in Florida, or actually does go abroad at some point to avoid creditors, justice, etc. He wants to remain in control, and that's a pretty obvious path to controlling the narrative. Trump Island. Just you watch.
I know a lot of people are down in the dumps this holiday season for many of the reasons highlighted above. People get down in the dumps this time of year anyways, for a variety of reasons. 2020 is just compounding it. This year, however, I'm not feeling so bad. Having abandoned the holiday and the trappings of Christianity this year (Happy 5781, everyone!), I'm not really missing anything. In all honesty, I don't have many fond memories of Christmas. I didn't have a normal home life growing up, so I have no memories of a first Christmas and trees, and fireplaces, etc. To be honest, it's a relief to have distance from the whole affair. I admit that I have enjoyed the practice of Christmas cards in years past, and that's something I intend to keep doing, even if only as a "Happy Holidays" card (it's not all Christians!). But I am not missing the holiday parties and expectations that accompanied the season for me previously. I lit the menorah this year (a digital one, lit by USB cord) and I'm not getting a tree. Hanukah was great, and began this year on Shabbat. Christmas, as it turns out, will be the same way! So, in some fashion I will be celebrating Christmas this year, just as a Shabbat dinner alone in social isolation. Happy 2020, everyone!