A few years ago, during the lead up to the holidays, I needed a root canal. Trapped in the dentist’s chair, forced to listen to a loop of Christmas carols, I thought I might lose my mind. For the follow up visit, I brought noise canceling headphones and unseasonal music.
Cartoon by William Haefeli for The New Yorker
More seasonal advice. Take a few deep breaths and listen. Trust what you know to be true.
Illustration by Lisa Congdon
I find the days leading up to Christmas among the most disorienting of the year. Part of it is being Jewish, and there’s a frenzy that I don’t quite understand. It’s also the weird limbo state between work and holiday. 5 years ago, I began inviting a group of friends to my home for Christmas dinner. The benefit is not only that I’ve secured an activity on the actual day, but it gives me a focus beforehand. And the one place I’m most at ease this week is wandering through the aisles of my favorite food markets. How are you holding up?
Disassembled gingerbread house from things organized neatly
May it be filled with collaboration and miracles.
Interfaith by Michael DuMontier and Neil Farber
Decades before there was a reason, I had a free-floating anxiety of standing at my mother’s grave site without a husband. When that moment actually arrived, I managed to go through it, alone but intact. What has been your hardest moment so far?
Image from thisisn’thappiness
When I moved from San Francisco to L.A., I brought along a wardrobe of mostly black. This was practical in the Bay Area where the weather was crisp. But in the southland, with heat and sun that persists for so much of the year, all black no longer made sense. Slowly, but steadily, I began to add light into my wardrobe. At first, it was tans, taupes and whites, but now I have a fuchsia blouse, a teal-striped tee, even cherry red shoes.
Photo: Horst for Vogue, 1939
Emily Dickinson (born on this day) said: “If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
Artwork from Amandine Alessandra
Over the weekend, a friend called. This is something out of the ordinary for us, and in fact, the last time he phoned it was to tell me that a mutual acquaintance had been diagnosed with breast cancer. When I saw his name show up on my caller ID, I had a momentary flash of concern. It turned out he just wanted to chat. When did it happen that phone calls became quaint like letter writing or sending birthday cards by mail?
Photo by Kyle Bean