Thursday, December 24, 2009

How a Jew Celebrates Christmas

It's hard to be a Jew on Christmas
My friends won't let me join in any games..
And I can't sing Christmas songs
Or decorate a Christmas tree..
Or leave water out for Rudolph
'cause there's something wrong with me..
My people don't believe in Jesus Christ's divinity..
I'm a Jew, a lonely Jew.. on Christmas.


I'd like to begin by thanking Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their genius. Seriously - that song from South Park is one of the funniest things ever and in many ways sums up my situation.

Except that I am a Jew who does celebrate Christmas.

We'll start with my childhood when my 100% Jewish family celebrated Christmas. I don't know how or why this tradition started. We've been able to trace it back to my mom who also celebrated Christmas when she was a child (with her 100% Jewish family). When I asked her why, she gave me this insight-filled answer: I have no idea.

Anywho, when I was a kid Christmas was a BIG DEAL that involved a tree and ornaments and a wreath and jingle bells on the door and Christmas cookies (Snickerdoodles, spice cookies and meringues - oh and also these apricot jam things that were a bitch to make because you'd have to refrigerate the dough overnight) and rolls of wrapping paper and ribbon and Christmas music (hello John Denver and the Muppets! Nice to see you too Nat King Cole) and that most traditional of all Christmas Eve dinners - Tacos! and Christmas morning agita while all the adults stumbled out of bed and fumbled for their coffee while I practically peed myself to open gifts and stockings and Teuscher champagne truffles which we ALWAYS got in our stocking for Christmas and that most traditional of all Christmas morning breakfasts - Bagels and lox and herring and sable and whitefish! and a long afternoon spent exploring and playing with all of my haul and then a big Christmas dinner with turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes and cranberries and green beans and then the inevitable let down and disappointment when I'd wake up the next morning and realize it was all over until next year. That was Christmas for most of my childhood. As you can see, we celebrated the secular version of Christmas.

Then one day my brother and I outgrew Christmas and the other relatives weren't as into it and so we bailed. And while my heart was momentarily ripped out of my chest, my parents decided that a Caribbean vacation was the perfect replacement for trees and tacos and smoked fish. Somehow 2 weeks in St. Bart's every year lessened the blow that we had temporarily stopped celebrating Christmas.

And then one day I outgrew my parents sending me on a 2 week Caribbean vacation (FML) and I went back to celebrating Christmas. Sort of. You see - I always had a legitimate reason to celebrate i.e. there was someone non-Jewish in my life who celebrated the holiday and therefore I was given a free pass.

Well - this year that wasn't the case and I struggled with what to do. Could I justify Christmas as a Jew? And the answer I ultimately came up with was: Yes. When stores start rolling out Christmas with their Back To School Displays in September and Halloween and Thanksgiving basically get steam-rolled in the holiday department and radio stations play holiday music 24-7 for like, an entire month and essentially the entire concept of Christmas is rammed down your throat like a 16-ton submarine: well then yeah, I'm in too - my religion notwithstanding.

And so it was that I braved Wal-Mart one Saturday and bought my very own 7.5 foot pre-lit Donner fir and that I put it up the Saturday after Thanksgiving and that I hung 500 lights in my house and that I hung some mistletoe and baked almost 20 dozen Christmas cookies and that I've been listening to holiday music (ok - so Run DMC should clearly sing more Christmas carols because It's Christmas Time in Hollis Queens is probably like the best. Song. Evah. Yo.) and that I'm celebrating the secular Christmas of my childhood this year. It's just how I roll yo.




So Merry Christmas to you and yours. Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings. Whatever floats your boat. Just enjoy the magical spirit this time of year brings - there's no avoiding it no matter what or who you believe in.

PS For the record - I totally also celebrate Hanukkah and light the candles and say the prayers and make latkes although I don't do dreidels. The thing most people don't realize is that Hanukkah is a pretty insignificant holiday in the Jewish religion - but given that it falls within relatively close proximity to Christmas and it involves gift giving it's been pumped full of religious steroids in some weird twisted attempt to compete with Christmas which is ridiculous because if Halloween can't even compete with Christmas, there's no way Hanukkah is even gonna come close.

5 comments:

harmzie said...

Great post. I've been mulling a similar one myself, as Christmas to me (and strongly arguably, my entire family) has precious little to do with Christ (sorry every church message board that I pass). In my mind, it's way *bigger* than that. I`m prepared to be smote for that.

Shelly Overlook said...

I hope your first official "just you" celebration is as fabulous as you are. MWAH!

Karen from Mentor said...

Merry Christmas Darlin!

I think all days filled with love are holi days....

And you're one loved lady. Can't wait to see what the new year brings for you.

Hugs!
Karen :0)

Hampers said...
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