“I wish I was still at my school in London” has become a familiar refrain around here. The first time Zachary said it, I was surprised. He does not remember most of those children, and some were rather cruel to him. His teacher was wonderful, but so is his teacher here. Why would he want to be there?
“They celebrate gooder holidays.”
Setting aside for a moment that he knows perfectly well that the superlative of “good” is “better,” his statement is simply untrue. He went to a church preschool in London and attends a synagogue one here. At his church preschool, they only celebrated Christmas and Easter. Here, there seems to be a Jewish holiday every other week, not counting the weekly Shabbat celebrations.
Yet, somehow he has gotten it into his head that Christmas is better than any Jewish holiday, which is a little mystifying. All his friends are from the school, which is to say Jewish. He does not spend time in malls. He does not watch commercials. Other than a few lights around the neighborhood, nothing in his field of vision has shifted.
His brother has no idea that Christmas is afoot, but he sure likes the lights. He likes to go out for walks in the early evening, exclaiming over icicle lights and luminous reindeer, speaking in both English and Spanish, mind you. He is so impressed he forgets to pretend that he does not know Spanish.
All of this is to say that, for a Jewish household, we’ve had our fill of Christmas already. It’s not our freakin’ holiday and it does nothing for me or my husband. While I am interested to learn about the ways that Christmas is meaningful to you and your family, it is not meaningful to me. I truly want to hear about the religious aspects of this holiday because I respect its significance in so many lives, but I really do not need to know every detail of how you shop, bake, and decorate, unless it is particularly moving as a family event for you.
I ask those of you who celebrate Christmas to remember this: It is not a secular holiday. It is not an American holiday. It is a Christian holiday, a beautiful and special time. But for me it is just another day, a rather annoying one on which everything is closed. Do not try to mask it with “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays.” My faith only has a very minor holiday at this time of year, so if you really want to honor my faith, you’ll need to check in with me in September.
Go. Celebrate with your church and your family. That is as it should be. But also remember, please, that not everyone spends five weeks obsessing about your major holidays. Please, now and again, talk to me about something other than Christmas. Since I’m hearing plenty about it from my kids.