I appear to be mellowing with age . . . .
I have reached the point where I actualy enjoy seeing other people celebrate Christmass.
Mind you, it would be nice to get some different music in supermarkets and so forth.
For those just tuning it, it is no surprise that many of us of the Jewish persuasion often have . . . issues . . . with how in our supposedly secular society where we are all American and so forth Christmass is a massive overhwelming tidal force in the popular culture. It isn't that we begrudge their holiday. It's just that most of the time we cheerfully go through our lives with everyone pretty much pretending that religion doesn't matter and if we have our own peculiar observances, well, so does everyone else and its all cool.
But then comes Christmass, when it seems like everybody who isn't positively anti-Christmass is swept up in this Christmass tide. The fact that it has in many ways been tamed and secularized into generic warm fuzzy family holiday with a vestigial religious element and then homogenized with reference to other celebrations doesn't really help. It's like everyone is lining up on either the HoHoHo side or the Bah Humbug side. And, worst of all, it's not like its anyone's fault. So if you try to talk about it with folks who aren't feeling that same way, you either get a defensive reaction or the sort of blank sympathy that comes from talking to people who want you to feel better but don't quite get what's wrong.
So many of us Jewish types go through various ways of coping. Some just ignore it. Others get very clannish and we develop our own traditions (e.g., chinese food and movie). Some get very vocal and want either absolute parity with Chanukkah or want to spoil everyone else's Christmass by highlighting everything wrong with it. And some suffer Christmass Stockholm Syndrome, trying to somehow incorporate it as a non-religious holiday or include elements of it in Chanukah (does anybody else here remember the "Chanukah bush?" In addition to being utterly lame, can you imagine what that says about your self-image? They=mighty tree, You=lowly bush.)
I've cycled through various stages and coping mechanisms over the years. Especially when Aaron was younger, it was VERY IMPORTANT
for me to make sure he understood that, despite Christmass being everywhere, it was NOT
our holiday and we did not
have Santa Claus and no it was not
OK to want to celebrate Christmass like everyone else.
But these days, my fear that The Grinch That Stole Christmass is going to turn Aaron into a non-believer has abated somewhat. Mostly what I see when I walk around and watch other people with Christmass lights and decorations is not a threat or even an exclusion, but just people having a good time. We need more people having a good time, especiallyb these days.
I'm not saying my coreligionists should all be mellow and "mature" like me. There is nothing "mature" about the fact that I'm reacting to a cultural tidal wave with a more zen-like disconnect. Frankly, I think it has more to do with how my studies of Kohelet over the last few years have prompted me to regard most things in life as fleeting and unimportant and to regard the happiness we can enjoy on Earth as a gift from God. Seen in this light, a holiday that makes lots of other people happy (and where I and mine no longer need to hide in the basement because a Passion Play has stirred up the local villagers against the Christ Killers) is rather a good thing in the world.
Although I'll be glad when they change the tapes at the local supermarket. Really.