Dec 23rd, 2005

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.