Picture Perfect

Posted on September 21, 2010

In terms of the chagim (holidays) this year has been particularly rough on me…and anyone else who dreads three days with family and no escape. It’s true the first few hours, dare I say entire evening can be quite nice, picture perfect if you will…and then you realize you are stuck with these people, your family, people you did not choose to be friends with, but rather have no choice for the next 73 hours or so (give or take). Though I detest the three days of forced togetherness, I know I am lucky in that I can tolerate my family pretty well…and I also like to take naps (that helps too).

Nevertheless, just thinking about the upcoming three day holiday of Succot had me break out in hives. I would be stuck with more family than I was with on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur combined. Rather than stress about this unavoidable situation…I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to infuse the world (or in my case, a small section of the Bronx) with kindness as a method of avoiding family and helping others at the same time…a win – win for everyone, if you will.

  1. Take the family dog out for a walk…alone. Bring a ball, water, treats and a bag to clean up any unwanted messes. Spend some time in the park, go on a long walk or hide in your succah (if you think no one else will find you) with your furry friend who is not blood related.
  2. Offer to wash the dishes. Even I am shocked at my willingness to put this one on the list, but this is a two-fold kindness that I just couldn’t pass up. By washing the dishes you are guaranteeing yourself that few (if any) others will want to help with this task, thus giving you a few precious moments of solitude. Also, all you need is one person to see you working diligently and the news will spread quickly…not only will you get out of dishes duty for the rest of the holiday, people will want to give you time to relax (hopefully by yourself with a good book or magazine).
  3. Pray for the well being of the State of Israel, a speedy recovery for a friend who is ill or for the U.S. government…early in the morning. That’s right, go to the earliest possible services. There is usually no speech or sermon (and if there is one, it’s usually abbreviated) and by the time you get back everyone else will be heading out…and you’ll be heading into your mid-morning nap.
  4. Make a special succah hopping visit to a senior center and spend time with some of the residents…they will really appreciate your time, company and friendship…and you’ll appreciate spending time with someone else’s family member.

Hope these ideas are helpful…and feel free to add more. Wishing you a Chag Sameach!

This blog entry is dedicated to D.R. and all others who will be spending extended time with family over the next few days…unwillingly.

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