Monday, December 17, 2007
Eight crazy nights
That's the time between right now and that other big holiday coming up. Actually, it's really the only big holiday at this time of year.

Hanukkah, just in case you're wondering, is actually a bitty little holiday on the Jewish calendar generally marked by eating enough oil to have your pores secreting generously for the 8 nights of the celebration. All the hubbub, ruckus and frippery...It's just so Chana and Isaac aren't jealous of Christina and Juan. If it wasn't around Christmas time, as many Jews would celebrate Hanukkah as they do Purim (a more significant holiday) or Shavuot (also more significant). Which is: not many.

Anyway, more about me.

I never feel more Jewy than at this time of the year. I'm all for a good "Happy Holidays!" and will play along (my apologies to soldiers in the War on the War on Christmas) but people start asking all kinds of questions and eventually I get to the point where I have to say something.

For instance the receptionist at my therapist office asked me if I had put up my tree yet. Knowing how much I love to entertain, someone else asked me if I make Christmas dinner at my house.

"Actually, I don't celebrate Christmas, I'm Jewish."

The response, inevitably is, "Ohhhh. You're Jewwwwwish." It sounds like they're in mourning for me. "I'm so sorry you won't be celebrating this super-fun holiday of gingerbread and popcorn garlands. It's so sad for you." As they subtly search for the horns hidden underneath my Jewfro.

It really was never a big deal for me, not celebrating Christmas or Easter. I had a friend who was Christian (as in church going every Sunday, CCD, crucifix in every room, no saying "Oh my God!!!" because it took the lord's name in vain-Christian) when I was little. Christmas and Easter were, in my mind, very linked to Jesus and since my family didn't believe in Jesus (which has always struck me as an odd statement. I mean, it's not like he was the tooth fairy or a dragon) we didn't do those holidays.

Of course my mom, who loves herself a little ongepotchket
(ong´e·potch·ket) excessively and unaesthetically decorated [Yiddish]
would put up every blue, silver and white streamer she could find along with cardboard and foil dreidles and felt hanukkiahs (they're actually not menorahs - menorahs have 7 candles, hanukkiahs, those used at Hanukkah, have 9 candles) that my sister and I made in Jew School. In fact, my felt hanukkiah was up just last week.

I, on the other hand am a little more...shall we say subtle in my expression of my Jewish heritage. I have a mezuzah (a little parchment scroll) on my front doorpost which advertises my that this home will not be putting up flickering light displays come December. There is not much that displays atheism, so I don't really go there.

My point is, as a Jews are a little more than 1% of the general population (of course if you live in California or New York, it's quite a bit more). If you count the atheists, agnostic/secularists, Hindi, Muslim, Baha'i, Native, Sikh, Buddhist, and other non-Christian religious callings, I'm in with about 15-20% of the general population with my non-Christmas celebrating self.

It's ok. We're fine. I promise. But you may want to check on the guy who came to our front door last Sunday morning. Michael told him we were Jewish homosexual atheists. He seemed a little frightened. I don't think he'll be back.


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Blogger Kath said...

It's nice to give the cute little Jehovah's Witnesses a benchmark. Maybe you managed to exceed my RenFaire atheist friend who actually invited them in for a chat. After five minutes, they left walking away quickly, and haven't been back in ten years. I still wonder what he said.

Blogger dale-harriet said...

ah, Faith, a girlie after me own heart. I grew up in Minnesota-Norwegian-Lutheranville, and all my friends' moms had me in to help decorate their Christmas trees so I wouldn't feel left out. I am so the QUEEN of the Tossed Tinsel. And our shul had a house decorating contest every year (I remember the year Rabbi Gorden came to judge our house - Mom was out and I was wearing one of her skirts up under my armpits, pretending to be a Fancy Princess...I was so embarrassed because Rabbi Gordon was HOT!) Nevermind, I was probably 7 and he was married. One year Mom made a big cardboard hanukkiah and put *bubble lights* in it!! I think she secretly wanted a tree. I sang carols, LOUDLY, at school and it didn't convert me....(well, I'm sort of more of a heathen-pagan-pantheist kind of Jew). But I dig Christmas; I'm a fan of bright glittery sparkly lights, LOVE the music, and besides, it IS a Jewish kid's birthday. My own older son LOVED to take his little hanukkiah to school with a dreidl and talk about Chanukah. Did I mention that he's biracial, but doesn't look so much white and for SURE doesn't "look Jewish"? And my daughter (also biracial) and a bit cynical...says "Happy Merry ChristmaChanuKwanzaakah". 'Bout covers it.

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