Monday, December 7, 2009

Observations from a Jew on Christmas

I have to preface this post by saying that I grew up in a Jewish community and wasn't exposed to Christmas other then on TV or driving through downtown Cleveland to look at Christmas lights.

You spend how much?
My very good friend was in tears because she only had $750 to spend on Christmas. I honestly had no idea that people spent that much. Hanukkah may be eight presents but the presents are things like a box of crayons or chocolate money that we call gelt. I have had rants in the past about the sheer consumerism of the holidays but honest to God, I did not grasp the magnitude of it until my girlfriend told me that she usually spends around $2000.

Cook until you drop
Clearly if you've seen a photo of me then you know that I enjoy pastries. I've recently learned that my gentile friends spend days making cookies and pastries. This has got to be my favorite part of the season (this is a big hint to make me cookies). Another Christmas tradition, at least in Tucson, is to make tamales. Oh my heck are they good.

So to recap - I am open to pastry and tamales if anyone wants to bring me some :)

Everyone assumes that you celebrate Christmas
It's really weird for me, even after living in Tucson for 16 years, to have people wish me a Merry Christmas. That wasn't something that happened often back east. I appreciate the good wishes, I appreciate the thought of people on FaceBook sending me Christmas Trees and Christmas Ornaments but truthfully it's insulting. I wrestle with myself knowing full well they are not intentionally being prejudicial but rather they are just being happy in the holiday. I do wonder what would happen if I ignored Christmas and wished everyone a Happy Hanukkah and sent them dreidels and gelt on FaceBook 300,000 times.

Holy Consumerism Batman!
I don't think this even needs an explanation other then WOW.

Expectations are high
It amazes me that people have this fantasy of how their Christmas should be. Some of my friends work themselves up into a panic trying to make their Christmas perfect. One of my best friends buys herself something every year just so that she has something to open. She takes her 5 year old son shopping and has him pick something out for her; she pays for it and wraps it and then hides it until Christmas. Yes I do feel bad for her and I love her so I try to give her something to open from me because her Christmas is made or broken by the presents.

What's up with the cards?
I don't get the whole Christmas card thing and I always feel bad when I get one because I don't reciprocate - however if you send me a photo of your family it will live on my fridge for years.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, (or don't), have a safe, joyous and healthy new year.