Monday, December 5, 2016

Reverb 2016 - Just Not that Into It

Just Not That Into It // Everyone has their own tipping point. What do you hate about the holidays?

I hate the “otherness” that I feel. I haven’t fully connected with a group of close Jewish friends here. And with my husband’s Christian family, I find myself saying “Christmas shopping” much more than “Hanukkah shopping” anymore. I don’t want to lose sight of my own heritage, but I find more and more that Hanukkah takes a back seat to my husband’s family’s Christmas celebration. That part is more sad than hateful. I certainly don’t hate his family for it – they welcome me and try to include my traditions (like latkes and candle lighting).

No, I hate the “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas” battle. It makes me feel more like an outsider every time someone posts a tirade about stores saying one instead of the other. Choosing sides here automatically excludes so many others. I absolutely understand that Christmas is one of the most religious holidays on the Christian calendar (presents aside) and that Hanukkah holds relatively low religious power; the debate is as polarizing in my mind as gun control. And while it seems a bit ridiculous to draw that much of an extreme parallel, I do so only to illustrate that it falls into the same “no-win” argument. I try to roll with it, knowing that I am in the minority. There’s probably a bit of deflection wrapped up in my head: it is hard to be in the minority and feel marginalized year after year. But it’s not about making Hanukkah mainstream (it’s still not a major holiday – and making it into one to compete with Christmas feels misplaced).

I love Christmas movies and Christmas cookies. I watch Elf almost on the daily this month, and my holiday playlist (a modern mix of Hanukkah, Christmas, and seasonal melodies) is on repeat. But I wish this debate about simple greetings wasn’t the end-all-be-all. I now block the posts when I see them on Facebook, but everything about the debate frustrates me. I say “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends/family. I say “Happy Hanukkah” to my Jewish friends/family. Our holiday cards send warm wishes for the season. And I would appreciate a simple “Happy Holidays” from the stores. And I know I have religious friends who want to “put the Christ back in Christmas” and that is fine! Of course I do not begrudge them for their own fervor and I know  that their devotion has nothing to do with me. But I do wish it were easier for them to remember that there are other celebrations and to acknowledge those at the same time.

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