Oy vey, it’s Christmastime again. For this Jew, that means a combination of excitement and mild irritation. As an outsider to Christmas, I find some of the cheer to be pretty fun. Who am I trying to kid? I fucking love Christmas as a Jew. I get to enjoy the seasonal artifice, camp, movies like It’s A Wonderful Life, Phil Specter’s Christmas album and all those pretty lights without any of the holiday stress. I love jubilation and goodwill; I take no issue with charity and cookies. Festive decor delights me, Christmas trees are an aesthetic and olfactory feast, and parties with mistletoe and eggnog could not be more fun; I’m glad that other people celebrate, because Christmas is a truly wonderful holiday. Sure, I’ll never understand true Christmas magic, but I get to watch it on TV and that’s not so bad.
I have no interest in burning down your Christmas tree or getting Santa on a registered sex offender list, but being a Jew on Christmas is not all fun and reindeer games.Though it’s mostly not a big deal and something that I personally am used to, it’s easy to feel either excluded or forcefully included. It’s exclusionary when people refer to Christmas as an “American” holiday. It’s totally missing the point and reinforcing the idea that Christian is the default. Sure, it’s not a holiday just for the devout. But even if you and your family never go to church or believe in god, it’s still a Christian event that not everyone gets down with. It is not un-American to not dream of nutcrackers and advent calendars.
Participating as a distinct Outsider and not just a secular Christian comes with its own problems. Those who give in to Christmas are reminded that it isn’t their’s. Growing up, I knew Jews who celebrated and were given guff for being greedy jews who got to have Chanukah and Christmas. As if, right? It’s uncool to cry no fair when Others want to get in on the yuletide carols and sleigh bells ring-ting-tingaling. The event pretty much takes over the world for a few months, so it makes sense that some Jews and other non-christian people would lean into the curve.