And a Happy Chanukah to you

Please, I beg you, do not wish me a Merry Christmas.

No, really. It will lead to unpleasantness: You will receive a lecture, and I will feel bad. And I’m reasonably sure that was not your intent. I’m pretty sure most of you just don’t know how awful it makes me feel.

Here’s the thing: If you, in fact, celebrate Christmas, I truly, madly, deeply hope you have a very merry one. In your house.

I do not celebrate Christmas. I do not want to celebrate Christmas. Not in my house, not in my lobby, not in your store, not in the office.

Lest you think I am prejudiced or, worse, a buzz kill, consider this: Every time I see a public display of Christmas, I feel bad. It is as if that wreath has a voice that screams: “You are not one of us. You don’t belong. We’re in charge here, and don’t you forget it.”

During December, I come home every night to a lobby that looks like an elf exploded. It upsets me every single time I have to walk through the lobby. Not really how you want to feel entering your own home. The menorah (which takes up about .05% of the space devoted to Christmas) makes me feel ever so slightly better. Ever so slightly, especially since it shares its puny perch with a dwarfing, garish red and green flower arrangement.

Largely, I have turned these bad feelings to anger and resentment. Healthy! The closer we get to the end of December, the larger my Star of David necklace gets, culminating in my 2-inch-high gold dazzler. A friend calls me the Jewish Mr. T. It’s my way of giving people every possible hint of how not to piss me off.

My best friend throughout my teenage years was Catholic (probably still is). I thoroughly enjoyed helping her family trim their tree and celebrate their holiday. In their house. Just as I enjoy having non-Jewish friends come to my house to share in my holiday and traditions (though I certainly don’t expect them to run home and sweep for chametz). I think it’s a lovely way to share and learn.

But just as I don’t send my non-Jewish friends Happy Rosh Hashanah cards (you’d find that at least a bit odd, wouldn’t you?), please don’t send me a Merry Christmas card. It is akin to sending me a note that says, “We don’t care a lick about you, you silly minority.” Do you really want to send me that message? OK, maybe you do. Just know it deeply offends me.

For those people who have told me that Christmas isn’t religious, that a Christmas tree isn’t religious: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Put another way: If the word Christmas precedes your noun (as in tree, lights, party), it’s about Christmas, which is a religious holiday. Notice the root of the word: his name, his holiday. Bet he’d agree.

This country was founded on freedom of religion. But, more importantly, it was founded on the separation of church and state. So why is there a national Christmas tree? Why is Christmas a national holiday? Excellent questions, to which there is no possible decent answer.

We do not all celebrate Christmas (to the lovely woman with whom I worked at Nordstrom one year: “Yes, even if you’re born here”), nor do we all want to. Perhaps we can look to the actually secular holidays (remember Thanksgiving? And New Year’s works even for non-Americans) we ALL celebrate for community gathering and expression.

I read an article recently that says all this better than I do:

So now you know.

3 Responses to “And a Happy Chanukah to you”

  • I hope it makes you feel better that I don’t like all the Christmas hoo-ha, either. And: How do you choose among the many spellings of “Chanukah”?

  • Dude, I hear you. I mean, how can someone with a last name of Silverman be wished a merry christmas? Wow.

  • Wanted to let you know that your 16-Hour walking tour was the best! Me and my sister used it December 2010 and would have been lost with out it! It was a blast! A treasure map!

    Thank You for that!

    (Maybe put out a San Fran 16- hour walking tour too?)

    And yes we agree that New York is the center of the universe!
    Thanks again!

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