I hope you all had a great holiday! In our house, we celebrate “Christmakah,” and it’s always a wonderous time. When I was growing up, my family didn’t do much for Hanukkah … or any other holiday for that matter. I didn’t have any Jewish friends as they were few and far between in our neighborhood, so Christmas was kind of a bummer for me. I always loved the lights of Christmas, though, and as soon as I ventured out on my own, I purchased my very own “Hanukkah bush” and hosted really fun Hanukkah parties for my friends as a nod to my heritage.
Today I’m married to a goy (non-Jew for you goys out there!:)) and our family attends a spiritual center (Unity) where all religions are embraced. And we celebrate both holidays in a tradition we call Christmakah with our daughter Chrissy. I vowed I would make the holidays special for her, and perhaps I go a little overboard. She gets a present every night for the eight nights of Hanukkah and a bunch of them under our tree on Christmas morning.
This Christmakah, I’ve been feeling especially grateful for feeling healthy and being able to share all the joy the season brings with our tight little nuclear family. In February, it will be five years since I was told cancer had returned and it was stage IV. Ever since that day, and especially in the last year, I have struggled trying to determine when and if I should breach the topic of the “D” word with Chrissy. For a long time, I couldn’t think of it without crying hysterically. It is an unimaginable conversation, and one I didn’t want to touch. Besides, I plan on being around for a while; thank you very much!
But lately I’ve been able to approach the topic more level-headedly. Mike and I have talked about it, and he told me he has already had conversations with Chrissy. I talked with Flo, my cancer coach, last week, and she suggested I open up the conversation with open-ended questions and wait for the timing to be right. I made it my priority to talk with Chrissy over the holiday break when we’d have more time together.
It ended up that the perfect timing was last night on Christmas day. Chrissy came downstairs to tell us that one of her online friends’ father died suddenly. Later we were watching a show about Steve Jobs and they were talking about his views on death. That got our discussion going. And it was a good one. I won’t go into detail to honor the sacredness of the conversation. Let’s just say there was some crying, hugging and expressions of gratitude. I will tell you I assured her I will never give up and plan on being around for a while to experience her milestones.
I felt relieved to finally get the conversation out to the way. We finally addressed the elephant in the room. But afterward as I sat staring at our Christmakah tree, some feelings came up for me. It seems so surreal and unfair to me that a 13-year-old girl has to worry about such things. And as a mother who wants nothing more than to protect her child, it made me sad and angry.
Later I went back up to her room and she was happily on her computer. She assured me she was OK. I underestimated her resilliance and inner wisdom she has at such a young age. God has carried us so far, and I believe that will continue. I’ve been feeling incredibly grateful for feeling so well and being here for and with my amazing little family. It was my greatest gift this holiday season and one I will treasure for years to come.
In the spirit of making each day count, we made reservations for a trip to Puerto Rico to celebrate my 50th birthday this spring. We are all looking forward to exploring the beaches, rainforests and culture of the island. It was a splurge for us, but experiences have always been more valuable to us than things. Adios amigos! Until next time.