The Conspiracy

December Without the Dilemma

Christmas! ’Tis the season, and at our house Santa is an equal opportunity present provider. Hadn’t you heard? Santa Claus? Formerly Shlomo Clausstein, total Heeb.

I know we’re not the only Jewish family to celebrate Christmas in addition to Hanukkah. I’m sure there are plenty of us out there.

Some might call it assimilation. I don’t know if I’d go that far. It’s more like a cultural appropriation. The glorious piney smell of Christmas trees, the abundance of catchy Christmas carols (most of which were written by Jews), Chevy Chase in “Christmas Vacation,” a second occasion for turkey dinner, mistletoe, eggnog (heavily spiked with rum, of course), stockings, coked-up mutant reindeer: why should the goyim have all the fun?

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Hannukah. Candles, dreidel, the works. I’m still recovering from a particularly intense three-day latke bender. (You can consume only so much oil before it becomes severely unhealthy.) It’s also not like I’m falling over myself trying to get a little Jesus in my life. I probably went eight or nine Christmases before I ever figured out the whole Christ part. We never really discussed it in our house; that wasn’t the reason we celebrated.

And let’s face it, the holiday is (supposedly) the birthday of the most famous Jew, well … ever. If we’re willing to commemorate a group of guerilla religious fanatics (ahem, Maccabees) then a little inadvertent Jewish Jesus recognition shouldn’t be such a big deal.

It was only recently that I started to think of how bizarre it is that my family celebrates Christmas. Mom’s a Jew (though she did have an affinity for Christmas carols as a child much to her grandmother’s dismay) and Dad’s not a Christian.

But I’ve realized that’s not the point. The point is that for decades now, our family’s little secular Christmas has been a time when we spend a couple days together. It’s a time when we rest, relax, enjoy each other’s company and all the accoutrements of Christmas culture with a little Jew spice added for flavor (our tree usually has a few particularly Jewish ornaments nestled among the shining silver orbs and twinkling lights).

So, I’m going to have my cake and eat it too.

I’m going to continue singing “Last Christmas” at the top of my lungs until it drives my sister insane and she throws something at me. We all know that Hanukkah music is notoriously crap. Cookies and milk will remain on the fireplace waiting for Santa. Little Cindy Lou Who will never be banished from my house. And none of it threatens my Jewishness. Hanukkah is Hanukkah and Christmas is Christmas.

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