Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Jewish Girl's View on Christmas

Through the years, my thoughts on the annual celebration of Jesus's birth have varied. I've never been in the kind of family that celebrated Christmas in a secular manner in order to prevent me from feeling left out. And yes, those families sadly exist. But not mine. Chanukah is very important to my entire extended family and many traditions are followed consistently.

And Christmas was always just that holiday some of my friends celebrated. I knew from a young age that Santa Claus wasn't real, but that wasn't something I could ever bring up to my Christian friends. So I didn't. However, once I did witness a friend finding out from her step-mom that Santa was in fact fictional. It was slightly awkward for my nine-year-old-self. Especially since at that age my thoughts on the holiday were slightly bitter.

My main issue with Christmas wasn't that it got too much attention, but simply that Chanukah didn't get any. Especially since I live in a very Jewish community, you would think Chanukah would be represented by more then just an electric menorah over-shadowed by a giant, completely decorated Christmas tree. The concept of Judaism as a minority religion didn't really make sense to me, considering that obviously my family and a good majority of my friends were of the same religion. Not for any discriminatory reasons, but simply because I do live in a very Jewish area, and between Hebrew School, Jewish summer camp, and activities at temple, I do encounter a lot of Jews. SO, the fact that Christmas was such a huge deal blew my mind.

The worst of my anti-Christmas cheer was always experienced at Disneyland. I go to Disneyland almost every single year on Christmas Day, and to put it plainly, it looks like Santa Claus threw up all over the happiest freakin' place on Earth. I love Disneyland, more than almost anywhere, but Chanukah is important and deserves recognition.

So you see, my early relationship with Christmas wasn't the best. Another reason I think I lacked a good mood around the holidays was due to the absence of white Christmases in Los Angeles. In New York, I've heard from eye witnesses that people actually change over the holidays, like in the movies. In LA nothing is different. And if it is I want to know where.

I assure you, however, that my present day view on Christmas is much more mature. I have come to accept the holiday as extremely secularized, and the thousands of advertisements and decorations are in no way attempts for me to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but to get me to buy stuff. Oh, and Jesus was born in the spring, the holiday was moved to December 25th to coincide with Winter Solstice and avoid persecution from Pagans.

Due to this mature outlook on the holiday season, I have been able to pin point my favorite thing about Christmas: the resulting fiction! Every year I cry during It's a Wonderful Life, some of the greatest scenes in Harry Potter are over Christmas, so many romantic comedies come out in December, and I totally got teary-eyed during tonight's episode of Glee when Santa made Artie able to walk! I also love Christmas music, especially considering "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting...)" and "White Christmas" were both written by Jews. And even Barbra Streisand has come out with a Christmas CD. It's understandable, not that many people would be a Barbra Streisand Chanukah CD. My favorite Christmas songs, however, are the non-denominational classics "Let It Snow" and "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Nothing like some good non-religious winter cheer.

Happy birthday to Theodor Schwann, Louis Prima, Eli Wallach, Ted Knight, Sara Bareilles, Jennifer Carpenter, Aaron Carter, and Emily Browning.

On a final note, this blog is in honor of the victims on the attack of Pearl Harbor and my dog Shayna, who died today four years ago. She was the best dog ever.

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