December 29, 2022
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My family spent Hanukkah and Christmas Day skiing in Big Bear. It was hard for me to watch so many people working on their holiday. From the people fitting us for our helmets to those helping us on and off the ski lifts, the mountain was filled with employees.

One gentleman was giving us directions and I couldn’t help but remark, “We appreciate that you’re helping us today. Is it hard for you to work on Christmas?” He quickly responded with a big smile, “I don’t believe in Merry Christmas. I believe in having a merry life.”

I also smiled. I know that for many, working on significant holidays cause disappointment and loneliness, and is often, a financial necessity. But this man also taught me that holidays serve as a reminder of experienced everyday blessings. The man wasn’t minimizing the holiday. He was emphasizing the importance of being grateful for the rising and setting sun, the ability to breathe in a brand-new tomorrow, and the gift of offering love whenever, wherever possible.

How Jewish. In our morning blessings we recite the words, “Elohai Nishama, SheNata Bi Tehorah Hi.” Translated, the soul that You, my God, have given me is pure. In other words, today is filled with endless opportunities. Today, I can choose to start with positivity or negative self-talk. Today, I enter this world prepared to give, living life with an open-heart. God gives me a pure soul. The least I can do is give thanks by living with integrity, purpose, intention, and righteousness.

The gentleman on the mountain lives a merry life. May our secular new year start in a similar fashion: filled with simcha and emunah—a lot of joy and an abundance of faith.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy 2023

Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.

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