Half Sigma has just posted his annual How Jews feel left out at Christmas speech. But its not exactly like Jews are excluded like Rudolph. Its more like Jews exclude themselves like Scrooge. And he’s not getting much sympathy from his readers, either. Not from atheists, people of other faiths or even other Jews. My response follows the video.
You won’t get much sympathy on this because everyone understands there are two Christmases — religious Christmas and secular Christmas. Everyone knows Jews are perfectly welcome to join in secular Christmas. For that matter, Jews would likely be welcome at any religious Christmas provided they were well-meaning. So no one is excluding Jews. Its entirely self-inflicted.
What’s more, people realize secular Jews’ resistance to secular Christmas is a rejection of gentiles and society. Religious Jews at least have religious reasons. But secular Jews should have no more objection to secular Christmas than Halloween, Valentines, St Patrick’s or Mardi Gras. So rejecting secular Christmas is kind of a big “FU” which says “I don’t want to be you”. If you don’t want to be “them” then that’s your choice. But you can’t expect the people you’re rejecting to sympathize with the loneliness you feel as a result of your rejecting them. That’s like kicking someone and expecting them to sympathize that you sprained your toe doing it. Though I don’t expect you to see it that way.
The irony is that secular Jews are largely responsible for Christmas being ubiquitous. It was Jewish department stores that pushed it so hard. And its not like Jews are under represented in Hollywood and the music industry, either. I figure devout Christians are about as unhappy with the secularization of Christmas as you are with it being ubiquitous. The two kind of go together.
I realize you’re not trying to justify the way Jews feel. You only want people to understand that some Jews feel that way. I understand that and think it’s unfortunate.
PS: I’m not religious and have no problem with Christmas. We don’t have a tree or lights or lawn ornaments. But we hang a wreath on the door, send cards and give a couple of presents. Then, again, I don’t mind religion, either. I even send my children to a Catholic boys school. Our children participate fully and it doesn’t bother them or us. It doesn’t change who we are. If anything, we’re stronger and more confident because of it.
PPS: These short days and long winter nights can get depressing if you don’t put a “magical” holiday in the middle of them. So don’t get all depressive and woody allen on us. Go out. Have some fun with your family, your friends or just by yourself. And do it in your own way. And if you can’t do that then at least get some eggnog and spike the hell out of it. I don’t normally drink but that’s what I do. In fact, I feel it kicking in now.
Good luck. And Happy Holidays.