december 2012


Holidays: History Shared

‘I am grateful for the time and space that connects us…’

By Laura Berman Fortgang

(Ed. note: Laura Berman Fortgang, a pioneer in the personal coaching field; the best selling author of five books now published in 12 languages; a perennial go-to authority on the top morning and afternoon TV talk shows; and a Huffington Post blogger, penned this essay for her December 13, 2010 blog. At the time, Hannukah had passed, and she is reflecting on “history being shared from generation to generation,” and her sense of feeling “connected to a long, long line of people around the world and a history thousands of years deep” that is common to all religions and pagan rituals at this time of year. In that spirit, we offer her thoughts in this 2012 Christmas issue of Ms. Berman Fortgang had previously contributed two essays to our Christmas issues: “Oh Hannukah,” about the changing attitudes from the time in her youth when hers was one of the only Jewish families in the school system she attended; and the self-explanatory “Why Jews Love Christmas.” Those essays are still available in our 2011 issue, but this earlier essay seems most appropriate to reprint this year. For more information on Ms. Berman Fortgang or to contact her, visit her website.)

Hannukah has come and gone already, but this month of birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas parties is far from over.

Eight nights of Hannukah were honored with care. Each night we made sure to fit our candle lighting into a time when we were all present and a meal was shared. No one was on the run which was nice in itself.

In recent years past, I had been making sure we practice a new ritual that I came up with during my time in seminary. However, this year, I sat on any urge to do so. There was a maturity to my children this time that required no structured way to pass on the meaning of the holiday. My twins, turning ten at the end of the month and a newly minted teenager, all took turns lighting the candles. They were eager to get their turn and regimented about whose turn it indeed was. They now know the candle lighting prayer without needing any help. They did not need prompting to finish the short ceremony before jumping at their gift. In fact, they embodied a reverence unseen before this past week.

hanukahAs I watched from the couch every night as they took over what my husband and I did for them just last year, I felt the same thing each time. I was struck by a wave of recognition coming over me. A sense of history being shared from generation to generation. Despite not being a religious home, my children now bare the imprint of Hannukah and will someday pass it along. As I watched the ritual become theirs instead of mine, I felt a deep connection to a long, long line of people around the world and a history thousands of years deep.

The same seems true of all religious and pagan rituals at this time of year. It runs deeper than tradition. It seems better suited to say it is a shared experience that becomes humanity because of its commonality among people. Something that people have been doing and observing for thousands of years at the same time every year connects us across time and barriers. It anchors us to each other and to the spirit of what it means to stop, appreciate, celebrate and for many, worship.

Holidays are a different kind of history. One that does not depend on what timeframe you live in or far back your memory goes. It is a history that is ancient yet timeless and is sustained by ageless appeal. What’s not to love about gifts, fanfare, pretty lights, food and togetherness?

I am grateful for the time and space that connects us and for the opportunity the holidays bring to renew and repeat my wish for all good things to be yours.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

from Laura Berman Fortgagng's website, originally published on December 13, 2010

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