Another Day, Another Rant

Yesterday, or maybe the day before, the Miami Herald ran a big ass story about "The December Dillema". That dillema, apparently, is what to do about Christmas and Chanukkah in mixed families. I'm not going to touch that issue with your ten foot pole, but I am going to address their solution.

First of all, matzoh is not associated with Channukah in any way, shape or form. Second of all, it doesn't look like a happy Bavarian cottage, it looks like a freakin' graveyard. Third of all, what the fuck is wrong with just being Jewish, and having Jewish traditions, like Channukah gelt, and spinning the stupid dreidle, and lighting the menorah? And eating fried food? Huh? What is so wrong with that, that we have to coopt the traditions of another religion that coopted their traditions from the pagans who went before (i.e.: the Christmas tree)?

I accept that in mixed faith families, there may be some issues, but, hey. A tree is for Christmas, and not for Channukah. There is NO SUCH FUCKING THING as a Channukah bush, OK? Calling it that makes it no less a Christmas tree. And a Christmas tree, no matter how much my girlfriends try to convince me otherwise, is a symbol of Christmas and of Christ's birth, and not just a house-sized air freshener.

And you know what? I'm OK with that. I respect that. I honor that. I may feel like a stranger in a strange land this time of year, with most of my neighbors decorating the outside of their homes with lights, and the non-stop Christmas music in public places, and the never-ending barrage of all things Christmas, but. But I am a minority. Not in the minority, as in, most people enjoy this and I do not, but A minority. I am a Jew, and this season is not about me or my beliefs, it is a holiday, no matter how secularized it has become, of major significance to Christians. I may even go so far as to say that my recognition of Christmas is more religious than most of my Christian friends. As an outsider, it is easier for me to focus on the meaning of the holiday than of its commercialism.

The RLA grew up in a Jewish ghetto, and has no appreciation for Christmas. He is even, dare I say, a teensy bit offended when invited to share the holiday with our Christian friends. I, on the other hand, having grown up as the only Jew in a one-Jew town, understand that this is an offer of love. Christians, by and large, feel as though their Jewish friends are missing out on something special by not "having Christmas", and so throughout my childhood and into adulthood, I have been invited to tree-trimming parties, to Christmas dinners, and Christmas morning breakfasts. (As an aside, there is nothing I love better than a slice of fried ham with red-eye gravy on Christmas morning, made from the left overs of the Christmas Eve ham. Oh, I am such a bad Jew.)

What the RLA doesn't see is the love that those invitations hold. It is a manifestation of peace on earth, goodwill to men. It isn't a subtle, or not-so-subtle attempt to convert us. It is an acceptance of who we are, and an offer to share with us, what is so special to them. And that, my friends, is true love.

But I digress. I was bitching about a Matzohbread house. That, dear readers, is a cop out. That is not embracing the differences and the "true meaning" of either holiday. That is a piece of shit and not to be tolerated by Christian or Jew. I don't want my Christian friends making potato latkes and calling it hay in the manger cakes, or lighting a menorah and saying that it represents the Christ child, the three Magi, Joseph and Mary and however many goats, horses and sheep are required to make up the number 8.

I want Christians to be Christians, and Jews to be Jews, and Muslims to be Muslims, and Hindis to be Hindis. I am all for a belief in something bigger than us in the universe, but I don't think that a mishmash of pantheism is good for anybody.

Separate, but equal. Share the holiday, but don't force it. I'll invite you to my house for potato latkes and applesauce and chocolate gelt, if you'll make me a slice of fried ham with red-eye gravy. I'll teach you the dreidle song, and you can skip the Twelve Days of Christmas because I already know it. I'm happy to wish you a Merry Christmas, and not a generic Happy Holiday, because it isn't a threat to who I am or what I believe to acknowledge and honor your beliefs.

And, that, in the end, is what this season is all about. Merry Christmas. Happy Channukah. Blessed Kwanzaa. Whatever the hell you say about Tet.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 10:29 AM in My Mind is a WMD Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 10:29 AM in What the Fuck is Wrong With You People

(8) Comments
#1. Posted by Jessi on December 23, 2005

Okay.  Admittedly, I am neither Jewish nor Christian, but in DC I’m surrounded by both.  And for every “mixed religion” family I’ve met, its been perfectly acceptible to have a menoral on the table and a tree in the living room, and to open gifts Christmas morning and spin the dreidle, and eat gingerbread and latkes.  I hadn’t realized it was a problem to just keep the bloody holidays seperate and celebrate them both.  The mind boggles.

#2. Posted by Miss Bliss on December 23, 2005

That was wonderful Lynn.  I have to say that once again you have hit it directly on the head.  Because in truth it’s about honoring ones own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others.  I guess to some degree I think that in families where there are two different religions being practiced that it might get a bit trickier but I don’t think that’s what you really brought up.  There’s no need to deny your religious beliefs or yearly traditions simply because they are not the ones being sold in the stores. 

#3. Posted by TNGEO on December 23, 2005

Yay Lynn! Spokesman for all Mankind! Maybe that’s Mankine. Different religeon there, for sure.

Merry Christmas, chile. Thanks for accepting it.

#4. Posted by Kathleen on December 25, 2005

I LOVED dragging you out in the snow to get that HUGE Christmas tree that we lugged home to Westbeth and decorsted at mom’s apt. You made that Christmas very special, because you shared our goofy family traditions, and jumped right in. Thank you for writing this. I couldn’t agree more. Merry Merry, girlfriend. Love, Kathleen

#5. Posted by Miz Shoes on December 26, 2005

Kathleen, I LOVED it too. It is one of my favorite memories of our friendship, of my time in NY, of Christmas. Snow, the Village, us and that big ass fir. It was wonderful. It was exactly and everything that Christmas is supposed to be.

#6. Posted by Julie on December 26, 2005

Yes, yes, yes!

I about blew a gasket when I first saw that damn “Matzoh house” on the Food Network. And, our Wegmans has boxes of Matzoh out with their Hanukkah display - along with the candles, menorahs, stickers, gelt, dreidels and other doo-dads.

My problem with Christmas isn’t Christmas itself - it’s that the season lasts from before Labor Day past New Year’s thanks to rampant commercialism. I’m all for making money but I heard my first carol at a local store on August 22nd. There’s something WRONG with that.

Don’t get me wrong as I’m not anti-Christian by any means. After all, I used to work in development for the National Cathedral!

#7. Posted by RJ on December 27, 2005

As I told you the other night, I believe that the “matzo-bread house” is just simply stupid.  Of course, matzo has nothing to do with Chanukah, and neither do matzo balls (the matzo ball snowmen).  Both renditions were just UGLY.  That being the case, I don’t think of either as having anything to do with Christmas or Chanuka.  As matzo has nothing to do with Chanuka, neither does gingerbread have anything to do with Christmas.  Do people make gingerbread houses for Christmas? Sure they do.  They’re festive. They’re cute.  Are they Christian symbolism? No.  They’re Scandinavian… or German… somewhere around there.  Unless of course someone makes a gingerbread manger with a Christ child made of Jelly Bellies, a gingerbread house is not a Christian symbol, co-opted or otherwise.  And do the Jelly Bellies then become a Christian/Christmas symbol?

Is someone going to make some money with these kits and with that idiotic cookbook?  Sure they are.  That’s the reason they did it.  And ignorance and preying on the similarly ignorant.  The recipes are not kosher, and therefore don’t represent the best of anything.  Some of the stuff sounds downright disgusting,

Yes, I have a Christmas tree (for MJ).  Yes, I have a Chanukiah (Chanuka menorah) right next to it. Actually, two (you’re really supposed to have one for each person in the house.) And I light them all.  Yes, frankly, I regard the tree as a giant, room-sized air freshener.  So did the pagans who started the custom to mark the winter solstice.  The Christians didn’t so much co-opt the custom as they said to the Pagans: “OK, fine! You can keep bringing trees into your house.  Yes, we know it’s a way of making the house smell good when it’s been shut up all winter long and smells like fish and gym socks.  Yes, we know it’s a little green to break up all that white, and the green is the promise of Spring coming and rebirth.  Hey! yeah! Rebirth!  Ummm okay, you can keep the tree and we’ll just move Jesus’ birthday from April to December.”

There is no “December Dilemma.”  There is Christmas and there is Chanukah.  And there is no reason that “mixed” families can’t celebrate them both without creating some of these hideous melanges the newspaper article referred to. 

And yes, I generally say “Happy Holidays” unless I know the person personally and know which religion they practice.  Maybe there isn’t a single person working at my post office who is Jewish, but I strongly suspect that this one guy may be of Syrian descent via South America and could - just might be - Muslim.  Super guy, too.  We like him a lot.  “Happy Holidays” works, because it’s generic in the sense of referring to all the holidays, including Kwaanzah (or however you spell it) and New Year’s.

Everybody’s just so fucking touchy, these days.  Including me.

Sorry this was so long.  I hope it fits.

#8. Posted by Barry on December 31, 2005

A New York City cousin of yours, I inadvertenly found your site. I’m pleased to see your creativity still grows.

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