Home Perspectives Ask Ella Holiday damage – how to cope with the consequences

Holiday damage – how to cope with the consequences

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Dear Ella,
I lost my mother this year and although I’m not observant, I have committed to going through this year without attending parties or festive celebrations. It’s the least I can do to honour my mother. I know this would have been important to her. I’ve paid someone to say Kaddish every day. I say my own prayer every day, too.
This is a very difficult season for me. Both my business and social circles are not overly Jewish and I’ve had to decline many invitations to Chanukah, Christmas and New Years parties. I’m a single woman and parties are usually very much a part of my life. I unwind, regroup and network.
When I RSVP my regrets, I’m picking up some uncomfortable vibes. Although I’ve made a commitment, I’m feeling left out and a little sorry for myself.
No Parties For Me

Dear No Parties For Me,
There is practically nothing that is more powerful than the bond between a mother and daughter.
Avelut is the final period of mourning, which is observed only for a parent. It lasts for one year after the burial. I commend you for following your heart and doing the right thing for you and your mom.
Given your lifestyle, it may seem difficult to follow this phase of mourning, especially at this time of year. But I have no doubt that you will fulfill this undertaking. You are obviously a strong woman with strong moral convictions.
Feeling sorry for yourself right now is real, but it will be very short lived. When this season is over, you will come out on the other side of it feeling empowered because you were able to get through it, and proud that you did not let yourself or your mother down. Being able to honour a parent in this way can be a life-changing experience.
As for the uncomfortable vibes you are feeling, it is very likely that people are saddened by not being able to celebrate with you. A week from now, no one will remember these holiday parties. It will be business as usual and life will go on.
If you feel the need to explain yourself, the truth goes a long way.


Dear Ella,
I’ve really gone overboard this time. My husband, Jeremy, and I created a holiday spending budget that we were supposed to honour. I started off doing really well and then my email inbox was inundated with special sales, promotional codes and impossible-to-resist offers. I went nuts and have now spent far more than I was supposed to. I’m trying to find a way to hide all this from Jeremy, but the packages keep arriving every day.
We are trying to save for a house and have been on the same page with the same goal, until now. I really blew it this time. I feel so awful. What can I do to fix this?
Overspending Fever

Dear Overspending Fever,
Take a deep breath, as you are not alone. I know that doesn’t help you ease the burden of guilt and bills coming in, but last year, TD bank estimated that people often exceed their holiday spending by 20 to 40 per cent. It happens. Now you need to regroup.
Face the damage. Tally up what you’ve spent and get a good handle on how over budget you are. You’re going to need a solid plan to get back on track. That new home is a great goal to always keep in mind.
Depending on how severe the damage is, you may need the help of a financial adviser. If you are paying a crazy interest rate on your credit cards, go to the bank and consolidate all your debts with a low-interest bank loan, then concentrate on paying back that one loan. In the meantime, cut up all but one emergency credit card that you keep in a safe place in your home, not your wallet. Close that evil email account and stop signing up for new alerts.
With some serious focus, this will be fixed in a reasonable time, and you and Jeremy will be back on track in no time.

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  • fabrent

    If she hasn’t already, “Overspending Fever” should explain the situation to her husband.

  • fabrent

    To “No Parties for Me”: might you consider joining a book club, through a shul or other venue?
    It has the kind of social interaction that respects the year of mourning (kol ha-kavod to you).