Christmas Rapping

I grew up in a Very Small Town in the south of Florida. My (extended) family was the entire Jewish population of said small town, and had my grandparent's house burned down in about 1956, the entire shtetl would have been eliminated, since we all lived in that same house.

Christmas time would come, and we would decorate our store (AFTER Thanksgiving, thankewverymuch) for same. We would drive down to Miami to the display wholesaler and pick up garlands, and bells and snowflakes and order our supplies of wrapping paper and ribbons. (Actually, this would happen way before Thanksgiving, the ordering and shopping for decorations.)

By Thanksgiving, my GirlCousin and I were making boxes, and curling ribbons, in preparation for the Christmas rush. Boxes. Hundreds and hundreds of shirt boxes and dress boxes and thousands of curled ribbon balls, neatly ordered like green and red checkerboards inside the tops of said boxes. All of them neatly stored under the display counters. The wrapping table would get set up. We would race each other to see who could wrap a box faster, tighter, and with the least number of pieces of tape. I think the record was 3 pieces of tape and under 30 seconds. Everyone in the store answered the phone by saying "Merry Christmas, Stuart Department Store."

My parents would pile my brother and me into the car and we would drive around town to look at the Christmas lights in other people's yards. Nothing says Christmas like a lit-up coconut palm, and don't try to tell me different. One good hard frost and the oranges would sweeten up on the trees, too.

For some reason, however, my whole life, my Christian friends thought that I "had no Christmas" and took it upon themselves to give me one. I have probably decorated as many or more Christmas trees than any Southern Baptist. I would get an invitation to one friend's home and then another. Come for eggnog and decorating the tree! Come for hot cocoa and tree decorating! Come and help us put up the tree! OK. Sure.

The Sistergirlfriendgirl and her family had Tiggywinkle ornaments. Those were the little hedgehogs from Beatrix Potter books. I LOVED the Tiggywinkles. Flash's family had delicate old glass balls from her grandparents. Another friend made popcorn strings. One year when I lived in New York, Bean and her mom decided that decorating the tree wasn't enough Christmas for a nice Jewish girl, and they took me out in a snowstorm to pick their tree out from a lot on Sixth Avenue, and then Bean and I then had to drag the damn monster all the way across the Village to their WestBeth apartment. Brilliant. One of my favorite Christmases, ever.

On Christmas Day, I always made sure that I had an invitation to the most Southern of my Southern friends' homes, because that meant a slice of left-over ham, pan fried and served up with red-eye gravy and grits with enough butter and tobasco sauce to choke the original pig. Or me. Yummmy. Red eye gravy.

Those are great memories. Thank the baby Jesus that nobody had become so brow-beaten into political correctness that I didn't get to have them. I was not, and my parents were not, hell, even my GRANDPARENTS were not offended that I was asked to be part of someone's Christmas celebration. Nobody thought that my friends were trying to convert me. Especially since I returned the favor by teaching them the freakin' dreidle song, and handing out chocolate Chanukkah gelt.

There was no breast-beating and fretting over whether or not we should say Merry Christmas to our customers. Well, in all honesty, probably because we knew for certain that we were the only Jews in town and so a Merry Christmas would not be unwelcome, but also because in those dark days, it was considered polite to express recognition of another's beliefs rather than trying to pretend that we all worship the same nebulous concept of holiness in some non-specific way that could offend nobody and everybody.

I am growing tired of political correctness, can you tell? I think we need a new definition of it. I think that political correctness should be me telling my Christian friends Happy Channukah and them telling me Merry Christmas and we all smile and say "YESH!" Does it matter? The bottom line is that we are wishing each other peace and joy.

Namaste. The god in me recognizes the god in you. We are all one. Merry Christmas to all, unless you prefer Happy Channukah. Or a bountiful Kwaanza. Or whatever.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 02:09 PM in Random Crap Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 02:09 PM in What the Fuck is Wrong With You People Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/22 at 02:09 PM in Yellow Dog Politics

(2) Comments
#1. Posted by gigi on December 23, 2006

Hear, hear!  (Here, here?) 

Anyway, you can wish me a Happy Channukah, a Merry Christmas, a Joyful Festivus or a Swingin’ Solstice ~ whatever the heck it is you’re into.  As long as you’re wishing me well, if you’re celebrating, I’m celebrating.  Lighten up, people.  Namaste.

#2. Posted by gigi on December 23, 2006

OK ~ I liked your use of ‘Namaste’ so much I sto—I borrowed it.  I hope you don’t mind…

Um…Happy Festivus? :)

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