Category Archives: Religion

You Know It’s The Holidays When…

After withdrawing cash from the ATM, the account balance on your receipt forces you to rush back to work and go online to check your account activity. You are ready to call the bank to inform them that your account has been compromised and someone has depleted your funds. This can be the only explanation for the balance amount. And it turns out you are right. Someone has depleted your funds. You. All you.

You devour three Hershey’s Kisses Candy Canes in your office before you even take off your jacket in the morning.

You’re wearing the same “outfit” to work that you wore to run errands this weekend.

You’re watching people eat bugs and swim in cow blood. I guess it’s subjective in terms of what television makes you puke. JB would probably say Grey’s Anatomy or The Bachelor are pretty nauseating. However, it is only when those and all the other shows are on holiday hiatus that you may find Fear Factor acceptable television.

You think obsessively about what you are going to wear to spend the holidays with your future in-laws. Will the grandmothers think this sweater is fashionable? How many pairs of boots fit in my suitcase (Do I need every pair I own?)? Did I wear this last year? Are these pajama bottoms cute for Christmas morning?

Above else, you are steeped in tradition. One of my personal favorites is the Secret Santa-esque gift exchange my high school friends and I arrange every year. We do everything through the great website Elfster. This year, JB and I hosted a potluck brunch for the exchange. Check out the tortas JB made (one with sausage and one with chicken sausage for his kosher-style fiance!). I was so impressed, especially because he did it all with me pacing and stressing that we wouldn’t be ready for our guests. I like to call that the “front of house” duties.

The friend who was assigned to me got me exactly what I wanted — an Amazon gift card. I had depleted it five minutes after our guests left to purchase the books I want to read over the break — The Marriage Plot and In the Garden of Beasts. I’ve been longing for some reading downtime and will review them on the blog once I finish them.

This is truly a fun, stressful, busy, relaxing, gorgefest time of year. I hope it is the same for all of you. And with permission to post, on behalf of the future Mr. and Mrs. JB, best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful new year!


A Year Of Sweetness

To celebrate the Jewish New Year, it is tradition to dip apple slices in honey as part of the Rosh Hashanah* holiday, which starts this evening. Among other meanings that I probably wasn’t listening to in Hebrew School, it represents the wishes for a sweet year ahead, filled with hopes of happiness and prosperity.

This past year was brimming with sweetness for me, and I feel so incredibly grateful. From trips to engagement, from a new career opportunity to a new home, and even starting this little blog, it has been a time of much happiness with friends and family.

I can only wish the same for the new year ahead for all of my fellow tribe members celebrating tonight. And even for those who are not, we really don’t need an excuse to wish for a little sweetness in our lives, right?

So here’s a heartfelt L’Shanah Tovah* (“for a good year”) to everyone!

* I don’t usually post about Jewish holidays because I never know the correct way to spell them or their accompany greetings. Everyone does it differently and I feel like your level of “good Jew” is being assessed by which way you choose, as I’m sure there is a “right” way. Hopefully they will still let me into services tomorrow.

My Thoughts… On Everything.

This last week or so has been a whirlwind and it’s left me anything but balanced. I’m not complaining, it just makes it hard to choose a blog topic. So all aboard the random train — it’s a journey through this past week.

The Good

My potluck freshman year roommate from college came to visit for a couple of days from her current residence in Dubai. Clearly, these visits don’t happen often. I had someone to sing RENT with and we spent a cold rainy day getting pampered.

Common interests such as massages and musicals aside, my friend and I are about as opposite as it gets. I peaked in my adventurous spirit by leaving Texas for Chicago for college. My friend packed her bags 3.5 years ago for a transfer to Dubai (after countless other trips abroad — by herself!). Yet, we still manage to spend hours just talking. And eating Chick-Fil-A. It was a wonderful visit.

Also, in the good category… Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Please, please read this book right now. I risk looking insane in every public place I choose to whip out my Kindle because it is just that funny. The following line got me strange glances while I read in Whole Foods. In talking about photo shoots and the controversy of re-touching, she says:

“I feel about Photoshop the way some feel about abortion. It is appalling and a tragic reflection on the moral decay of our society… unless I need it, in which case, everybody be cool. “

I love how she takes a serious and controversial topic and juxtaposes it with something trivial. It’s obviously two totally different animals, but it also makes a good analogy because it’s true! You’re my idol, Tina. The glasses are just icing on the cake.

The Bad

I can’t talk about this last week without mentioning the icon of evil that pervaded it.

Babies R Us.

Seriously, what is wrong with that place? I attend a baby shower every other day, but you can never learn to understand that building. During my visit this last week, I actually asked a sales associate if they just randomly assign aisle numbers on their gift registries. Why do they even bother? They are never correct. Never. I’m sorry to all my expecting and soon to be expecting friends, but unless you register for something I can find in the first 3 aisles, you are getting a gift card. Any further into that store and my soul gets darker.

Oh, and I guess I should mention that other evil, bin Laden. Because it took me so long to write this blog, commentary on the topic is probably a little old. So I will keep mine short.  I’m happy he’s dead. He represented the deepest of hatred in mankind and I thank our service men and women for all they do to protect us. I also don’t want to line the streets and throw a parade about it. I really liked this article. It’s pretty religious which is usually not where I go for commentary, but I like the message. It’s okay to hate bin Laden and it’s okay to be happy he’s dead.  I sure am. But you know, maybe we don’t need to see pictures of his skull blown away. Let’s just keep focusing on the very real terror threats that are still alive and strong.

I also kind of enjoyed all the misquoting that was going on as people looked to Dr. King and Mark Twain to express their feelings. Man, people will copy and paste anything!

(Did you see how I juxtaposed Babies R Us with Osama bin Laden in this section? Wouldn’t Tina totally do that?!)

The Huh?

My city is electing a new mayor and I attended a debate of the four candidates this week. I haven’t been up on my civic news and was looking for this debate to introduce me to the candidates and help me understand the main issues in this race and their corresponding views. And it did this. But I love how politicians will throw in anything to make you feel like they “get” you. This debate was at the Jewish Community Center and one of the candidates called it “the J.” Wow, you totally understand Jewish people!

But then one mentioned that he went to my high school (and it’s likely many people in that room did because the J is located nearby). I all of a sudden liked every answer he gave just a little bit more than the other guy’s response. And when he kept saying that something was done “good” instead of “well”, it was just an awesome representation of our public schooling. Go Panthers!

I promised you random, so there you go. I hope you didn’t throw yourself off the train. It helped me end the week with a little clarity to get this all out of my head, so thank you.

So, like, what’s up with all of you? Have a great weekend! If you are a mother, I hope you are spared a Babies R Us visit on your special day.

2011: A Religious Odyssey, Part I

There are taboo conversation topics that are off-limits when you first meet someone, topics like religion and politics. Since we’ve been together for about three months now, readers, I think it’s safe to venture a little deeper. So if you care to, please come along with me on my religious journey of late.

There is no bigger search for balance than trying to find it in an interfaith relationship. As our partnership grows stronger and talks about our future together become more frequent, JB and I decided to meet with an interfaith coach to help facilitate exploration and discussion into what our religious home would look like and how it can honor all of the traditions we both value.

In our initial meeting with Coach, we focused primarily on how each of us viewed religion and how we envisioned it in a family one day. While I was brought up Jewish and JB Catholic, neither one of us would consider ourselves “religious.” I am active in the Jewish community here, but it’s usually at events that happen outside of an actual synagogue. And JB plays golf on Sunday mornings.

But still, here we were for 1.5 hours at a table in Central Market discussing how we would like a religious foundation in our home. And a lot of it was me describing to Coach that I consider myself culturally Jewish, but not very religiously Jewish. Clearly she has heard this one before, as people say it all the time.

She didn’t let me get away though with only this declaration. I had to try to dig a little deeper. I kept saying I want a “Jewish home”, but what exactly did that mean for me? For us? The interfaith dialog is more than just whether or not there is a Christmas tree in the house. JB and I settled that issue over Thai food on our 3rd date. While I will never speak for JB in this blog, I think it’s safe to say that this journey will force both of us to explore religion not just in terms of us as a couple, but first and foremost, in terms of ourselves.

What is culture versus religion? How do you separate what is good for you now from just what you have always known? How do you move forward and feel comfortable with what you might be leaving behind?

I have no idea the answer to any of these questions, but I hope to figure them out along the way, and I’m sure that many, many more will arise. I am realizing that with this journey, balance will likely not mean “equal” and that’s okay, as long as it is a decision that we come to together.

After our first meeting, Coach gave us a homework assignment and like the high school salutatorian that I was (am?), it has already been completed. We were charged with visiting different places of worship, Jewish and Christian, together to start to determine where we feel comfortable and to stimulate conversation between us, which it certainly did — in a very good way!

That part of the odyssey (melodramatic much?) deserves a blog post to itself so I look forward to updating you in part II. In the meantime, I hope to hear some of your thoughts! Are you in any type of “odyssey” right now?

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