Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...To Ruin My Life

Every year. EVERY year. Really, there ought to be an opt-out for December, a mechanism by which you could leap from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve if having to live through the intervening weeks is just too frigging painful.

Baroy recently programmed my cell phone to ring with the song from the (animated version) of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It's so apt.

It starts with the Evil, Gay-Bashing Salvation Army Men blocking the door to every grocery store in town. It's like running a fucking gauntlet every time I want to buy a gallon of milk. And then it moves on to the inevitable online 'discussion' of how Santa is historically a non-religious symbol, as if that has any meaning today. I mean, really. Historically, the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, but I'm thinking the NAACP would bristle at being told that they therefore have to vote Republican forever. And, um, historically, this country was supposed to be a refuge from religious persecution, and you see how that's turning out.

And then there's always one kid-related 'issue' that comes up. (For the issue of the year in 2003 and 2004, check the late-November, early-December archives for those years.) This year? Em's Brownie troop is marching in the town Christmas parade. (No, it's not a holiday parade. It's a Christmas parade.) All the other kids--every single one of them--will be participating. When one of the moms called last night to see if Em would be joining them, she misinterpreted my hesitation. "Yeah, I know. It's going to be cold, and they have to get there hours ahead of time..."

"No, no," I said. "It's just that we wouldn't normally get all involved in a Christmas parade, you know..."

"Oh," she said, clearly taken aback. "I didn't realize you were..." And here she hesitated, because she obviously so much didn't realize that we were...that she didn't even know what we were.

"Yeah, we're Jewish."

"Oh...Well, if Em wants, she can just come to my house on Wednesday and help the others make their snowman hats..."

I laughed. "No, no. I'm pretty sure my temple will let me stay a member if my kid dresses like a snowman in the Christmas parade."

And it's true. Once I'd checked my gut, I realized that *I* don't care if she's in a Christmas parade. But that's not the point. In past years, it's been carolling with the Brownies, and I did care, and so I declined on Em's behalf. (She doesn't mind, since she doesn't know the words to "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and figures she would just be embarrassed.) Had I declined this year, however, it would have really upset Em. But there's no reason for it. Just like there's no reason for the troop 'charity' project to involve sponsoring a family for Christmas as opposed to Thanksgiving, which is what I suggested.

And so, this troop, which has one Jewish girl and two Muslim girls, is going to hit the streets of our town to help usher in the celebration of Jesus's birth. And we'll buy little presents for some disadvantaged kids to have under their Christmas tree, even though if it were my kids who were disadvantaged, the group we're working with wouldn't be looking out for them. And Em will have fun at the parade, and we'll all feel good about helping those less fortunate, and I'll ignore the bitter taste in my mouth. Because after 41 years, I'm getting used to it.

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