Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah! And Early Grichmas to you too!

I'm working on a lovely post
with woven paper
Star of Davids.
So, I've been asked some serious questions about the roots of my somewhat grinchy attitude about this time of year. 

Much of my commentary is being silly[1], but I think a lot of people don't realize how alienating this season can be.  I walked by all the decorations going up at my work yesterday, and yah know, not a single non-Christmas one.   And there are Jews and Muslims and Atheists and Buddhists and Hindus here.

More woven paper fun!  I'm participating in
Holiday Cheer!
Hearkening further back, I have incredibly strong memories of having to stand up in front of my 6th grade class for every single Jewish holiday (and oh my god, there are A LOT) and tell my classmates, most of whom had never even heard of  Jews, how I was different from them.  Endless explanations that no, I did not believe in Jesus.[2] And no, I didn't kill him.  And don't even get me started on the hilarity of my Bat Mitzvah[3].

And I really thought that I had moved past being the awkward shy new kid, standing in front of a classroom telling people this thing about me that they all thought was completely insane.  Except in the last 3 months, I had to explain to someone that, in fact, there were not two kinds of  Jews.  The ones that believe in Jesus and the ones that don't.  We are talking about someone with half a century under their belt.  Do you have any concept of how awkward that was?  Having to tell someone my dad's age that the whole new testament thing didn't exist for Jews.  He was respectful about it, but it also kind of blew his mind.

It's not that I don't want people celebrating their holidays, but I hate the assumption that I celebrate it and that your need to celebrate trumps mine.  And I do love holiday lights (and Hanukkah is the festival of lights).  But when someone gets all uppity cause I say 'Happy Holidays' it makes me hate this season a little bit.  When what I represent is shut out of public celebrations, it feels crappy.[4]

Enjoy the lovely aspects of Christmas celebrations.  I'll come to the parties and enjoy the time with my friends.  I will even (happily!) trim your trees. But when you are wandering the public sphere or in your workplace, try to check your holiday privilege. Don't let the little drummer boy drown out all the wonderful flavors and varieties all around you.

Happy Holidays!! Have A Merry Newtonmas and a Happy New Year!


~~~~~~~~~


[1] As funny as it is to say when people ask me why no tree in my house, I don't actually think that Christmas trees actually symbolize the wood of the cross. And no, the coca cola polar bears killing seals don't actually symbolize the blood Jesus spilled.  But apparently my serious bsns face is really serious, and if you say anything deadpan enough, people will believe.  FYI: You will be struck down if you don't send me ponies laden with giant sacks of cash.

[2]  PROTIP: When you ask a non-Christian about the existence of Jesus, we will probably lie to get out of the conversation.  Please, don't push your luck, the conversation is already awkward enough.  Let it go.

[3] I did get a sweet pair of cross earrings, which slightly horrified my mom.  She was game though, when she told me that most people just thought it was a vague religious thing, and didn't realize the whole 'no really, no Jesus'.  Man, I wanted to wear those things though.  What? It was the 80s and I was really into Madonna at the time.

[4]  I try and harness that crappy feeling to help check my myriad privileges in the world.

5 comments:

  1. I think you let yourself feel alienated. My "Christmas" tree is blue and silver and has Stars of David and Menorahs on it! My mantle has a Menorah on it! All my candles have Stars of David on them! :) For us goyim raised with Christmas but who are anything but Christians, "He" is not remotely the reason for the season. Hell, Jesus was born in March or some such nonsense. Christmas may have a "Christ-y" name, but it's not about Jesus (again, for us non-Jews raised with Christmas). It's about love, and family, and peace and hope and renewal.

    You say it's all Christmas decorations... but how many actual crosses, or baby Jesus, were laying around? Or was it all bells and holly and candy canes and Santa? How is Santa not a guy you can get behind? Dude, fat guy in a red velvet suit and black patent leather boots delivering toys. He's the MAN!

    I AM sorry if there are people who do make an effort to make you feel excluded, but for me this season is about INclusion. Love. Good will to ALL men and women. I hope you will not feel excluded in my home.

    Just as I am irritated with the Christians out there who huff and puff if you say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", I think the opposite is just as silly. There should be no huffing and puffing this season. If someone says Merry Christmas to me I say it back. I do want them to have a Merry Christmas. Or a Happy Holiday. Or a Happy Hanukkah. Or a good Festivus/Kwanzaa/or whatever they celebrate, etc. I want everyone to feel what I feel this season, which is unmitigated love and happiness. Especially my grinchy friends. :)

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  2. Of course I'm all hopped up on oxytocin, but I'm pretty sure I feel this way every December. :)

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  3. well, i, for one, am with you. i started blogging back in march, when everything was all easter. or even all the spring stuff to me said easter (birds, eggs, pastels, bunnies). right? i felt pretty alone blogging as a jew, especially one who sort of "put it out there." i even "woot" when someone says they're jewish in blogland, b/c never have i seen so many "jesus people." and jews for jesus...i guess i never actually considered them jewish. when i was in college, my bubbie used to be afraid i would fall for them, or they'd try to "get me."

    SO glad you came by and commented, since it led me back to you! and super cute crafts, by the way.

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  4. Amy: you are so hopped up on oxy! I promise I will swing by with cheesy goodness and scope your decorations!

    Cape on the Corner: Nice to meet you! I squeed a little when I saw TWO!! different Hannukah decoration blog posts. I was feeling like the only Jew in blogland, although I haven't really put it out there much myself. I promise I will get my Star of David garland finished up and posted. Then there will be THREE!

    Jews for Jesus make me especially crazy, because there is already a name for them: christians!

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  5. I completely agree. The "Happy Holidays" thing should not offend people. It's including everyone's beliefs which is the right thing to do. I am accepting of all religions and I think that's the way to go.

    I'm sorry you had to be excluded as a child. That's absolutely horrible! I grew up in an area with a fairly decent Jewish population so I can't imagine being the only one.

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