‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2017 with Rachel Lynn Solomon

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of this year’s participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel Lynn Solomon lives in Seattle and loves tap dancing, red lipstick, and new wave music. A former journalist, she has worked for NPR, produced a radio show that aired in the middle of the night, and currently works in education. Once she helped set a Guinness World Record for the most natural redheads in one place. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (Simon Pulse, 1/2/18) is her debut novel. Another YA contemporary is slated for 2019.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

The heaviness in my chest, the one that tugs my heart down to my toes, won’t go away until January.

No matter how hard I try to “get in the spirit,” as others often urge when I’m not my peppiest during the month of December, I’ve never felt like I can participate in the holiday season. I was raised Reform Jewish, and although these days I’m non-practicing, I still identify with the religion. I can’t imagine being fully, truly myself without it.

That’s part of why this time of year is so hard: Christmas is inescapable. There’s the music and the sales and the red-and-green “holiday” coffee cups. As I write this, I’m sitting in a café with a red stocking hanging above my head. I’ve worked at a company that hosted “Secret Snowflake” yet required employees write letters to Santa to participate. And the people who refuse to even say “Happy Holidays” — who assert Christmas is a nonreligious holiday, can’t fathom someone not celebrating it, or worse, don’t care about offending anyone who doesn’t — have always mystified me. Inclusion is easy, but maybe exclusion is easier.

I’ve stressed about writing this post because I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s fun. My apathy does not mean you can’t love Christmas. If it has a special meaning for you, that’s wonderful. What I’m weary of is the notion that Christmas is for everyone when it has never been for me.

This time of year, I also can’t help feeling nostalgic for gatherings that no longer happen. When I was little, my family, though small, had December traditions. We lit the menorah on the nights we remembered. My younger sister and I stumbled over the Hebrew prayer, racing to finish it before the other one could. We traded gifts, cooked a special meal. But that family I foolishly took for granted has been fractured by divorce, death, geography, and indifference. These aren’t dramatic tragedies: my parents divorced when I was 23, my beloved grandfather passed away just shy of 80, my dad only lives an hour and a half away. I do still see my parents, usually separately, but my sister spends holidays with her boyfriend’s family. And with another family living my childhood home, it would be impossible to recreate our traditions.

I’ve tried to like Christmas music. I’ve tried smiling, laughing through “holiday parties” that were really Christmas parties. I know other Jewish people who enjoy those things, and that’s great — Judaism is not a monolith. And I know plenty of nonreligious people who love Christmas. But that isn’t me, and I know this makes my isolation partially self-imposed. It’s just hard not to feel greedy, even during a season that commercials constantly tell me is all about giving: for the family I used to have, for something that feels entirely mine.

If you have friends who don’t celebrate Christmas, maybe check in with them this season. If you don’t know what they celebrate, ask. I am always happy to answer that question.

I do want to create my own traditions, whether for a potential future family or just for myself. That’s still a work in progress. For now, this is my hope this holiday season: more gentleness for those who feel like it doesn’t belong to us.

Title You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone
Author Rachel Lynn Solomon
Pages 384 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
To Be Published January 2nd 2018 by Simon Pulse
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

A moving, lyrical debut novel about twins who navigate first love, their Jewish identity, and opposite results from a genetic test that determines their fate — whether they inherited their mother’s Huntington’s disease.

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist — and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s, and the other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

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