As a kid I used to tell people year-round that I wanted to be one of Santa’s elves when I grew up. I used to write letters to the North Pole in July. I even wrote our very own family Christmas carol, which sadly did not catch on, even within the household…
The truth is, I was fanatical about Christmas.
Another truth, is that technically speaking, I’m Jewish. My entire family is 100% Jewish (though, you might call us ‘secular Jews’). And yet, at home we always celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas.
When people would ask me why, I used to repeat what my mom had told me: “because it’s a fun holiday”.
And that pretty much summed up our approach to religion. We would selectively adopt the fun bits and ignore everything else.
Even when it came to Judaism, we were selectively religious. We always took the day off for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new years) in September, but would we go to temple? Nope, we’d go apple picking! Sometimes we’d climb a mountain too. But hey, apples are sort of a traditional dish… and the country is beautiful in the Fall! Why waste the day indoors?
I really appreciated this approach to religion. I think it’s a good model for life too.
Do what’s fun and leave the rest
As you design your life, think back. When were you the happiest? What activities made you feel most alive?
This selectivity should extend to every area of your life, including your social life. Who makes you feel confident and inspired? These are your people. Hang out with them.
Having just returned home from Denmark, I’ve been making a real effort to consciously select how I spend my time. I know that there are certain venues in this city that are packed full of negative, judgmental people and I’ve made a point of staying away from them. At this point, I have a pretty good sense of which influences will raise my emotional state and which will lower it and I plan my days accordingly.
Of course it’s important not to hide in your comfort zone either. The key is to be open to new experiences and new people. Give them a fair chance, but if you realize that something isn’t for you, don’t invest any more time than necessary.
Live by your own rules
You will always run into people who don’t approve of what you’re doing; people who believe that things must be done in a certain way in order to be legitimate.
I didn’t know this when I was younger, but apparently my mom got a lot of grief from the extended family about the fact that we celebrate Christmas.
As you embark on your pursuits, don’t allow the naysayers to get you down. Let them live according to their rules, and you do the same. Every time someone tells you that something can’t be done, what they’re really saying is that they can’t do it.
Our Christmases are also somewhat unique, in that they’ve become oddly Mexican in recent years, ever since my mom got interested in Mexican art… We use a red and green Mexican table cloth and there are funny skeleton decorations on the tree. Our Christmases don’t include any manger scenes or overtly Christian symbols either.
All to say, don’t walk blinding along the ‘traditional path’. Do what feels right for you.
Create extraordinary experiences
Life is a collection of experiences. Make those experiences as memorable as possible. How do you really want to spend your time on this earth? What’s important to you?
If something is meaningful, then it’s worth investing time and money into. Make your dreams a priority and fight the pressure to blend in.
Merry Personalized Christmas and/or Holidays!