I have some friends out there, especially this one really good and very caring friend, who wants to make me like (certain aspects of) Christmas.
I understand it. I respect it. I appreciate that people want to share the joy. In certain ways, I owe a lot to Christmas, because I met my husband at a Jewish Christmas party (true story). But in other ways I just… can’t stand it.
I didn’t grow up with Christmas around. I was born in Israel, and spent most of my childhood and young adulthood there. I loved celebrating my holidays and getting exposed to the holidays others celebrated. But that all changed when I moved to the U.S. in 2009. I was met with what I can only describe as a full-on Christmas season (well, it starts in October, right?!) assault. I had never experienced anything quite like it before.
Overnight, I turned from an innocent, loving, and easy-going Jewish girl into (quite literally) the Grinch. My heart shrunk all the sizes. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Red and green is ruined FOREVER. As an artist, Christmas is an affront to me. Red and green are complementary colors. Which means, in theory, they should work well together. BUT GUESS FRIGGIN’ WHAT?! Christmas has made it impossible to use that color combo. It’s supposed to be attractive but all it does is hurt my eyes and give me Christmas nightmares.
2. The music NEVER STOPS.
While, as my dear friend points out, some Christmas songs are quite lovely (and many were written by members of the tribe!), it is very hard to still like a song after you have heard it for the 200th time in two weeks. It turns quickly from a source of joy to a cruel, cruel torture device.
3. WTF is up with all the gifts? I don’t get it. I grew up in Israel, where the only time I ever got gifts was my birthday. Maybe an envelope with a little bit of cash for Hanukkah or Rosh Hashanah, but that’s it. And you know what? I had a pretty fulfilling childhood, at least on the gift front. Why are families going into debt to buy holidays presents? Why is there so much pressure to buy the perfect gift? Just thinking about it stresses me out, and I’ve never had to actually celebrate it.
4. STOP KILLING TREES. IT MAKES ME SO SAD.
I hate seeing the cemetery of trees littering the streets in the few weeks after Christmas. My hallway gets carpeted with sad, drying pine needles. Why are we doing this? Don’t we feel bad enough about all the trees we kill for paper? Must we add to the carnage in this egregious way?
5. What’s the deal with these Christmas “treats”? Candy canes? Seriously? Who wants to have more than one of those a year?! And don’t even talk to me about eggnog. I have tried it. I feel like eggnog is the Christian equivalent of gefilte fish. Just. No. While gingerbread houses are cute, let’s face it: A gingerbread cookie is an inferior form of cookie and nothing to write home about.
6. It is so friggin’ wasteful! From the electricity used for all those lights, to the disposable decorations, to the yards and yards of gift-wrap, I have never in my life encountered a holiday that wastes so many resources. Don’t you know our planet is dying?! All I want for Christmas is for us to recycle and use green energy please.
7. Some people actually believe there is a “War on Christmas”?
HAVE YOU BEEN OUTSIDE?! It is like a red and green acid trip. I feel like the power we use to light up Christmas decorations could be the yearly electricity usage of a small country at least. Have you NOT noticed the soundtrack at every store you go to is NON-STOP Christmas music? If someone is fighting a war on Christmas, they are really REALLY bad at it. I have never seen any holiday celebrated as dramatically as the orgy of music and lights and displays and trees and EVERYTHING CHRISTMAS JUST GETS SHOVED IN YOUR FRIGGIN FACE OMG PLEASE STOP, YOU WIN, YOU WIN, JUST LET ME GO HOME AND GET UNDER THE COVERS AND HIDE FROM YOUR GARRISH DECORATIONS.
8. I don’t like it when people wish me a merry Christmas. Listen, I understand it comes from a good place… But does it really? Is it fair to assume what my religion is? Even in Israel, where I can assume most of the people I talk to are Jewish, I try to go with a broad happy holiday greeting during festive seasons instead of any specific Jewish one. I love wishing my Christmas-celebrating friends a merry Christmas, because of course I want them to have a grand ol’ time. But I also think it’s important to look at each other as individuals without any preconceptions. And maybe that’s easier living in a big city like New York. It makes me sad that this gets framed as political correctness instead of as an act of kindness and empathy.
9. I dread having to raise my future kids around Christmas. I don’t have any children yet, but both my husband and I are Jewish, and yeah, we do want children. When I grew up, I felt so happy and content around the holidays that I celebrated. I never felt like there was anything missing from it. The songs, the food, the lights (the waxy variety of light — we never had any kind of electric lights at home) and most of all my family — it all meant the world to me. I suppose some of my resentment can be chalked up to the worry that my very beloved holidays just won’t compare to the extravaganza that is Christmas. That in a way, it creates a hostile environment for those of us who don’t want in our, and our children’s, lives.
The truth is, I love sharing my faith and my holidays with non-Jews. And I’ve been invited to a Christmas dinner or two; they were absolutely lovely. To all the Jews and non-Jews out there celebrating Christmas, I do hope you have a merry and fabulous one. It’s not the holiday, or the religion, that I have a problem with. It’s just the over-the-top and frankly violent display of it I’ve encountered since moving here.
I know I can’t change AMERICA. As I make my life here, I’m fine accepting that there are things I love more and less about living in this country, and I do feel truly privileged to be here. But hey, I’m still a Jewish girl so there’s one holiday-agnostic tradition I will still always honor — kvetching!