I have a serious love-hate relationship with magazines.
On the one hand, there is so much to love! The glossy pages filled with pictures of tidy living rooms, smoky eyes done just right, and a tablescape that screams “DIY goddess.” Sometimes there is even an article or two to read so I can have something to talk to my husband about besides potty training tales. Then there is the feeling that I am not alone. Wait—your wardrobe is a disaster? Mine too! Your post-baby body is getting you down? Same here! Your MIL drives you nuts with parenting advice? Preach on!
I get so excited when a magazine arrives. I pull into my driveway after preschool pick-up or a trip to the supermarket and I can see it from my car, a magazine tucked into my mailbox. It is like an oasis. I will put it on my coffee table until the perfect moment. You know what I am talking about—that magical time when both of the children are napping. The second their little eyes close the clock starts and I race down the stairs, make a cup of coffee, and open my magazine. Oh, what a relaxing time! Oh, how I deserve this!
And that is pretty much where the love part ends. Because in actuality, reading the magazine never feels relaxing. The pictures of the tidy living rooms make me want to clean mine, the smoky eye tutorial reminds me I have not gone out in weeks, and that festive tablescape? I start racking my brain for where I can find pinecones in my neighborhood to spray paint before my kids wake up. The next thing I know I am e-mailing my neighbor about that evergreen in her backyard and adding “buy gold spray paint” to my shopping list. This. Is. Not. Relaxing.
My most recent round of magazines are especially wanting. Covers shouting “New Year, New You!” open to articles that share seemingly easy strategies to fulfilling resolutions for the coming year. One magazine promised that you only need four hours to purge your bedroom closet. Four hours?! Some mornings I barely have four minutes to brush my teeth and wash my face. But I cannot resist reading on, and as I flip through another New Year’s issue, I find myself wondering how I will improve upon myself in 2016. What will the new me look like?
And then I stop myself. Mostly because one of the kids is now screaming for me, but also because I am busy enough without the burden of trying to become a “new me.” It makes me think about the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and how differently I feel during that holiday season. Maybe it is because the charge to reflect, repent, and become righteous feels like a more worthy cause to which I should resolve myself. The idea of seeking forgiveness and symbolically casting away all the bad of the previous year is just the opposite of burdensome. It is liberating. Instead of creating a new me, the Jewish New Year says to return again to my true, authentic self.
Or maybe it is because Jews are a religious minority and our holidays are not the focus of women’s magazines. It is likely a combination of the two.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the secular New Year. The fact that it is not a religious holiday is one of its finest traits. In those places where the Gregorian calendar is rule (and the USA is one of them) we can raise a glass with friends, neighbors, and family regardless of who they do or do not pray to and celebrate another trip together around the sun. In this way, the secular New Year so very special to me.
Regardless, I would rather purge my soul than purge my closet. So no New Year’s resolution for me. I will save my energy for next October when the shofar blasts, thank you very much.
Although I am sure I will find some spare time to spray paint those pinecones.