In the afterglow….

There is something almost magical about the holidays, I start to giddy about them right around Thanksgiving. There is little better than being surrounded by the love of family, drinking wine, eating comfort food, and indulging in desserts that seem to last all month long. You spend quality time with the people you love, doing what you love. My house always seems just a little bit happier once the Christmas tree lights come on the day after Thanksgiving. Their soft glow sheds light on the season to come and hopefully it is one filled with merriment and joy. I feel that same excitement every year as we follow the same traditions we have had since I was a child…decorating the tree, spending Christmas Eve with my parents and their forever friends, wearing our new Christmas jammies to bed, waking up early Christmas morning and spending quality time with my dad who is also an early riser, opening gifts, spending the day with my dad’s family.While this year was much of the same, there were some new elements added to the mix of the holiday season.

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This was my first holiday season with my boyfriend, Josh. Now his holiday traditions are a bit different than my own, primarily because he was raised Jewish. Now I have to admit that I really know very little about Judaism and was devastated for Jewish children everywhere upon coming to the realization that they had no Santa and that their holiday lacked much of the hype that surrounds Christmas. Although, I should note that Christmas has unfortunately lost meaning to many as a result of widespread commercialism. So maybe Chanukah has been able to maintain its integrity and true meaning, as a result. Regardless of the impact of modern society on traditional religious holidays, I wanted to make this Chanukah one he couldn’t forget. So I went out and purchased a Mensch on the Bench (The Jewish version of the Elf on the Shelf) and fully intended to participate in the fun that surrounds lease lovable children’s toys. So the weekend before Chanukah we opened the Mensch, read his story and named him Ezra. I spent the eight nights of Chanukah posing Ezra, who was savvy enough to pick up a girlfriend along the way, in various situations that served as clues as to Josh’s Chanukah gifts. I have to admit it was way more fun than I intended. So this holiday, I had the opportunity to not only enjoy my usual traditions but to hopefully create new ones along the way. My girl friends, Tammy and Steph, jumped on the band wagon as well considering we spent an evening drinking wine and playing dreidel, thanks to a traditional Chanukah gift given to me by Josh’s mom, and the rules of the game being published in the Mensch on the Bench book.

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This holiday season went by far too quickly, but had all the bells and whistles that I loved. Mostly time with my family and friends, celebrating the holidays all month long. Catching up with people who have left the area and taking time out of busy schedules to really spend time with one another. While the holidays were superb they sneak up on you and then fly right by. New Years was no different. Every year I pretend to commit to New Year’s resolutions that last a few weeks at best, aside from the one that Tammy and I made several years ago to spend time together doing things we have never done before. I have to say that really was by far the best resolution I ever made. It brought us to Philadelphia, where we toured the city. I ran up the Museum of Arts steps with the Rocky soundtrack playing in the background, and had my first Philly cheese steak. We went to the City and took in an off Broadway show, saw numerous local plays, visited new restaurants, and had tons of fun remembering why we’ve been friends since first grade. As our responsibilities increase we can’t commit to our monthly resolution of doing something new, but we try to at least fit in a few things per year. Well this year, I decided that my resolutions needed to be lest focused on what I want to change about myself and more about what I want to celebrate in life. So I resolved to love harder, laugh often, take nothing for granted, be thankful, cherish time with family, be the best friend ever, and love myself as much as I love others. Because in the afterglow, what you have left is who you want to be in this coming year, who you want to spend it with and how.

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The experience of this past year has taught me to appreciate the magic in this world – to revel in the snow when it sparkles, take notice of the people that you connect with (old friends or new friends), be thankful for the blessings that you have been given, enjoy the music and pay attention to the lyrics, accept invitations to get together even – if you think you’re too busy, slow down and love the life you have. I’d like to think that just maybe if you do that you get a glimpse of the everyday magic that seems more pertinent during the holiday season.

As for my start to 2015, I get a little bit of respite from my cancer journey. I completed radiation days before Christmas and now, the waiting game continues until the end of January before I know what my next steps are. So I’ll enjoy the break and hope that the rest works out the way it’s meant to.

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