Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Why I Don't Celebrate Jesus (for Tricia)

Because he was just another Jew. Probably a really nice guy, from what I hear. But just another Jew. And I just don't have the time to celebrate the birth of every Jew ever born, nice as that would be in the abstract. And I certainly don't have the time or money to make every Jew's birth into a national holiday--which, by the way, is what Christmas is. A national holiday, I mean. And as much as I love time off--and as much as I'm not going to complain about time off--I'd be more than happy to come in to work on Christmas if it would mean that I wouldn't have to take VACATION DAYS in order to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Passover. I'd trade it for the time off for even ONE of those. Since, you know, none of those are national holidays--or, in my school district, even school holidays. None of the Christians I know have to take vacation days to observe their most holy religious days. But the rest of us? You betcha.

Where was I going with this again? Oh, who cares?

Look, Tricia, assuming you meant your comments seriously: You have to know from spending ANY time here that there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that I'm going to nod my head sagely and say, "Ah, yes. Those poor Christians are so badly persecuted." But at the same time, let me say that I think Christmas is a great, fun holiday, and we always have a wonderful time spending it with friends. When I talk about it with my children, I talk about how lucky we all are to be able to share our traditions with other people. I don't want a single Christian person to stop celebrating Christmas, or even to lessen their enthusiasm for the holiday. All I want is for them to stop expecting me to greet it with the same enthusiasm as they do, because I won't. And--both more importantly and more to the point--I want Christians to stop making it essentially impossible for me and my family to opt out of participating in the holiday, if that's what we choose to do. We're off school, we're off of work, all the stores and the restaurants are closed. There is no option to pretend this is just another day. And there is no way to miss the difference between the way this day is treated by the world at large--including those who don't celebrate--as opposed to the way everyone else's life goes on as usual when it's our religion's most holy of times.

Now, all that said, wanna hear the kicker? The absolute best part of this all? I went by my temple on Tuesday evening, after posting to my blog, to pick Em up from Hebrew school, and was waylaid by one of the ladies from the sisterhood.

"Would you be willing to help out?" she asked. "It's something we're doing for the holidays."

"Sure," I said, making the obvious assumption that she meant Chanukah. Never assume.

"Well, we've adopted a couple of families from [a local organization for the needy], and we're trying to get together some Christmas baskets for them."

And so, today, I went out and bought an 8-year-old boy some underwear and socks and t-shirts, and someone else is getting him the Pokemon he wants, and someone else is buying his mom a basket full of soaps and powders, and someone else is getting a turkey delivered to their home on Christmas Day.

So there you have it. Even my temple doesn't feel my pain--or, probably, they're just better people than I, less rancorous and spiteful and able to be generous without looking to whether, if the tables were turned, we would be the recipients of the same amount of generosity.

Like I said, all I need is a time machine. Most of the year, I'm a pretty mellow person. Unless, of course, there's a presidential election coming up...

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