Christmas Rant

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In) writes:

>Debra Fran Baker (dfbaker@panix.com) wrote:

>: >"I think it's too bad that there seems to be a lot of pressure to
>: >celebrate the Christmas holiday in a *specific* way -- family, peace,
>: >gift-giving -- because the solstice has been a traditional time for
>: >celebrating in so many cultures in so many ways."

>: "But not every culture has such a celebration. For example, Chanukah is
>: only coincidentally in December and around the solistice. It could have
>: happened any time of year - it celebrates a military victory which could
>: have happened a month earlier or a month later.

>"Yet, through interactions of different cultures, celebrations adapt
>and change. People use aspects of their culture to create new versions
>of holidays, to take part of themselves and add it into the holiday
>mix... Kwanzaa is the most blatant example."

"This is not necessarily a good thing. Chanukah is a lovely little holiday, but it's a minor one, and so unimportant that there are hardly any laws about it. Because of its proximity to Christmas, people give it more import than it has, and ignore the truly important ones that come at other times of year - such as Shavuot."

>: "Japan, so far as I know, has not had a solistice type festival. It's
>: adopted the Western Christmas trappings, but that's clearly not
>: tradtitional for them. I find it rather sad they've done this, but it's
>: their choice."

>"Actually, it can be kind of exciting, as Asian interpretations of
>Christmas presents and traditions gives a whole new spin on things."

"Well, yes - if they take from your culture. On the other hand, no Jew would be excited if non-Jews celebrated ours."

>: >"While dealing with all the Christmas madness that drives you nuts,
>: >maybe you can find some alternative ways of celebrating that are
>: >meaninful, and fun, for you?"

>: "Why should I celebrate a holiday that's not mine in any way?

>"Because holidays are fun, and why not have more of them?"

"Because I have my own, and they are enough for me? I just finished my holiday season a couple of months ago."

> Why should
>: it be forced upon me?

>"Can you stop it from happening? If not, then how do you deal with it?
>I was trying to offer helpful suggestions. If you don't choose to take
>them that way, that's certainly your business. Find a way to enjoy
>yourself, or complain and be miserable. I find it rather sad that you've
>done this, but it's your choice."

"I don't get a choice. I get this stuff foisted upn me whether I like it or not. Would you force me to eat ham? Work on my Sabbath? Of course not - but I'm forced to take part in your holiday, and that is equally forbidden."

> As it happens, this year Chanukah and Christmas
>: coincide, so on that convenient day I'm going to have my in-laws over for
>: latkes. Next year, I'll do something else - attend a Jewish day of
>: learning or go to a movie."

>"That sounds fine, if that's the way you want to enjoy yourself.
>Celebrations can be as simple as a candlelit dinner with a single
>friend, or as elaborate as a theme party -- with a completely off-beat
>theme. Ultimately, my suggestions boil down to this: find your own
>spin to enjoy the season."

"What, winter? YOU AREN'T GETTING IT! I'm not celebrating your holiday. Ever. Or the season. Ever. I happen to have a sweet little holiday at the time which I celebrate when it comes around, whether it's the weekend after Thanksgiving or the last week of the secular year. A holiday which celebrates a victory of those who refused to join with an alien culture, btw. When Jews go to the movies on Christmas, it's to *escape*, not to celebrate. When Jews have special programs in their synagogues (as I tried to do this year, but suggested it too late) for adult learning and children's activities, it's because they need something to counteract what's happening outside, and those kids going to secular or public schools are off that day - after spending December coloring Santa Claus and Christmas trees, of course. Look at the Jewish parenting newsgroup - the current thread is 'How do I tell my three-year-old that we don't celebrate Christmas?'

"What if we made the same hoopla about Purim? Year after year, for a month or more a head of time, all the stores are filled with songs about Esther and Mordechai and Achashverosh. Costumes are everywhere, and all the cooking shows talk about the festive meal and the cookies and what a wonderful, fun day it is. Kids are coloring hamentashen and royal garments in school."

"Right now, you're probably saying, 'That sounds like fun.' It might be - for one year. But it's every year. Oh, Mardi Gras (which happens at about that time) gets a small share of attention, but mostly it's a holiday that you don't celebrate because it's not about your people. Mardi Gras gets elevated to holiday status (I know it isn't a holiday), which is annoying because your real holidays, such as Easter, are totally ignored. You can't walk outside without being greeted with 'Have a freyliken Purim.' Of course, you and your kids get Purim off, but all that's on TV is the Purim parade and various specials about the holiday. You can get a brief respite in the movies, or rent films, of course. And your kids really want to take part in the festivities of dressing up in costume and going to friend's houses and delivering goodies, but's expensive and you don't keep kosher. You remind them that they have Halloween, but you know it isn't the same thing."

"Just think about it. And you are right - being miserable doesn't solve it. I wish I could take it in stride."

>: "But that's because it's still your holiday. I'm in the middle of hoopla
>: I can't share, I don't want to share but it's forced upon me just because
>: I live in the United States, and I don't choose to isolate myself."

>"OK, number 1, I'm not Christian, so technically, NO, it is not 'my'
>holiday. I have deliberately chosen to enjoy the secular aspects
>of it -- Santa, red and green, gift-giving. But I do not believe
>in the religious nature of the holiday, and remove it as much as I can
>from the celebrations and decorations that I have _adapted_ for myself."

>"Number 2, you _can_ share the hoopla if you want to. I know of many
>Jewish people who take part in holiday parties. One of the holiday parties
>that I _personally_ am involved in uses decorations from Christmas
>and Hanukah, and is generally considered a 'generic holiday get-together'
>that people of a variety of faiths report enjoying immensely. So, I
>*know* it 'can' be done; whether or not it's something you 'want' to
>do is a different issue."

"A single holiday party doesn't do the trick - especially if you can't eat the food."

>: "Well, of course. December is the season of rudeness, imho. I'd hate for
>: the rest of the year to be like it."

>"You can find rudeness any day of the year if you look for it. December
>is, in reality, no different."

"December is far ruder. There is a general assumption that just isn't true."


>"I'm sorry that the holidays affect you in such a way, and I'm also
>sorry that you read more into my original post than was intended. I think
>your attitude does not help your reaction to the holidays, but that's
>just my personal opinion. You are, of course, free to deal with
>any time of year in whatever way you choose."

"I agree my attitude is bad. But compromising my own values is not a solution."

-- One sharp peppercorn is better than a basketful of melons.
                                                -- Tractate Megillah 7A
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Debra Fran Baker dfbaker@panix.com

copyright 1997 Debra Fran Baker and NightRoads Associates

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