Christmas for all!

Christmas.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, except for Jews and every other non-Christian religious practicer.

As a kid, I thought the whole thing was bullshit.

Santa Claus? You’ve gotta be kidding me.

A human god-baby? Get real.

Christmas “spirit”? Why weren’t you charitable and materialistic in November?

The yule log: another strange Christmas-ism

Yep, from my perspective, I thought it was phony and I was incredulous that people believed far-fetched tales of the North Pole and the Middle East.

On top of it, I resented the Christian domination of my supposedly religion-less country. Nauseating Xmas music, strangers asking me if Santa came this year, and unassuming “Merry Christmas!” greetings directed at me in public all added to a growing disgust towards the holiday. Where was my liberty to not be assumed Christian?*

My first exposure to the notion that Christmas could be completely unrelated to Christ or Mass was when my atheist high school Spanish teacher recounted her love for the winter holiday. Once I was in college – the first non-Jewish school I had ever attended – I realized her feelings were shared by millions of fellow Americans.

My non-religious college roommate, Jessica, loved Christmas music. And she took gift-giving seriously. She felt that it was her duty to give a present to everyone in her family. I started to think to myself, “Maybe the Christmas spirit IS real.” People genuinely try to be better people during this time of year.

You’ve gotta understand. Jews have a real aversion to Christmas. Most of them think it’s a nice holiday, just not “our” holiday. You know, since it has to do with Jesus, the ultimate black sheep in the family.

But at some point around the 50s Jews and their children started to get a little jealous of the goys down the street who got presents and lights while all they got were candles and shiny chocolate money. What a rip-off! So they turned Hanuka into a gift-giving holiday as well. It wasn’t too much of a stretch – it was traditional to give small monetary gifts to children.

But that’s where I think they went wrong. We should have started celebrating Christmas, not turned Hanuka into the Jewish Christmas. Hanuka is supposed to be about the defeat of assimilation, not its epitome!

I stand alone on this but…I’ll give my kids a Christmas tree!** And they can have whatever feeling it is kids supposedly get Christmas morning when they wake up to open presents.*** And on Hanuka there will be no presents. Only gelt and dreidels and a menorah. (And Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins).

Don’t get me wrong. I still think Santa is the biggest ponzi scheme ever. Kids are so stupid! But it’s good to spend time with the family, and gingerbread houses are fun, and so are Christmas trees, and hell, so is the music.

I have no idea how this song became a Xmas song, but here’s one of my favorites:

*Once when I was at least 11 years old, a hostess at a restaurant asked me if Santa brought me lots of presents that year. I was so incensed that she mistook me for a 6-YEAR-OLD and was so insensitive in assuming I celebrated Xmas that I filled out a comment card detailing my scathing complaint.

**If you’re not Jewish, you don’t know just how taboo that is.

***However there are a few ground rules: they will not be spoiled with too many gifts and THERE WILL BE NO SANTA IN MY HOUSE.

****Other Christmas notions that confused me:

  1. The Christmas card. Why are you sending me a card with a picture of your family? We don’t even know you that well!
  2. Why is being alone on Xmas the ultimate low-point in life?
  3. Why do you feel bad for me because I didn’t grow up with Christmas, let alone a snowy Christmas?!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Christmas for all!

  1. Hannah

    My boss wrote this for Tablet Magazine this week…think it’s worth reading regarding Jews and the Christmas tree: http://www.tabletmag.com/life-and-religion/86607/standing-tall-2/

  2. Benjamin E.

    I think the closest analogy to #2 would be having a seder all by yourself. Just a lonely time for a day/experience kind of built around the idea of being with family, I guess.

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