Friday, December 24, 2010

A Jew on Christmas

Growing up Jewish, I never really gave Christmas too much thought.  Sure, the trees were pretty and we helped neighbors decorate, but December 25th was just another day.  A day, of course, that often included Chinese food and a movie.  I had Jewish friends, and most of my other friends understood the fact that I just didn't celebrate Christmas.

Fast forward a few decades, and move across an ocean.

People ask, "what are you doing for Christmas?" and seem genuinely shocked at the answer of, "nothing".  Here in Northern Ireland almost everyone celebrates Christmas.  Granted, this is because most people are Christians, although even my Atheist friends celebrate it, Santa and all.

Now, I have nothing against Christmas in and of itself.  The commercialization and the constant advertising does get annoying.  The unfortunate lack of understanding is worse.  People tell me that Christmas isn't Christian, and has nothing to do with the religion.  This, of course, hearkens back to the invention of the holiday, placing it whack in the middle of loads of Pagan and Roman winter celebrations and borrowing traditions.  That's fine. But that's not a reason for me to just put up a tree, roast yet another turkey, and eat mince pies.  I've seen the stress Christmas can bring..the need to have all the food, the exorbitant sums of money spent on useless presents just to give a present, and all the chaos.  I don't want it.  It is not, nor has it ever been, part of my life. Period.

And, ya know, that's OK.  My husband is Christian, but isn't hung up too much on the holiday, so we have agreed to celebrate Hanukkah as our "gift-giving" and "cookie-making" holiday.  We light the menorahs, have gelt and I make latkes and rugelach. And it's 8-days long, so I can always go to the store and get potatoes.

I am not missing out.  I am ok.  December 25th is just another day for me, and although I miss my Chinese food, I am happy to have it as nothing more than a day off to watch bad movies on TV.  A Christmas Story, anyone?

So to all my Christian friends: Merry Christmas!