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Don’t Jewish you could celebrate?

Jeanette Genson, Assistant Scene Editor Danny Schmidt, Editor-in-Chief - November 28, 2012

Being Jewish is on a whole other level.

I feel like no one quite realizes the difficulties I, and other young Jews, go through, around the holidays.

Many of these feelings stem from the desire to just be a normal kid, with a Christmas tree in front of the window and mistletoe over my door.

I used to think the reason my house didn’t have a fireplace and chimney was because we celebrated Hanukkah, and Santa Claus didn’t come to our house.

I had to deal with a menorah and latkes with applesauce growing up. Not that this was at all a problem, but let me just say, it wasn’t easy being the only one in my childhood neighborhood with eight days of presents.

I’ll just stop you right there. Eight days of presents sounds amazing, but you don’t know the start of it. For the first two days, life is great; getting awesome presents like a boss—then things start to change. On the third night, I start receiving things like Butterfinger candy bars.

Fast-forward three days and I’m getting two pairs of socks—that I already own.
My parents would always say: “We are leaving the best for last,” which was never the question, of course they were, but in the mean time, let’s kick it up a notch.
Something happened to me this past week that has definitely happened before, but it still stings just the same.

I posted a lovely holiday photo on my Instagram to share with my loved ones.
Just moments later, my phone went off with a text from one of my best friends, Pam, who lives in Seattle. The text read something like, “You don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Whoa, shots fired. This is something every Jewish boy and girl has to go through, which is the terrible feeling of being shot down for having Christmas spirit. I mean, so what if I happen to love green and red put together, and I have a certain soft spot in my heart for the smell of fresh ham on Christmas morning—that doesn’t mean I believe Jesus is the messiah or anything.

All too often I’m sitting there as everyone talks about their favorite Christmas experiences and traditions, and sure enough, someone looks at me and says something along the lines of “Well I won’t ask you.”

I loved Santa Claus growing up. I had a Santa hat and was not afraid to wear it—even if it wasn’t December. But whenever people saw me in the hat, they asked me why I was wearing it. How dare you!

On a melodic note, I love Christmas music. Most people do, I believe, but some of that stuff is weird if you listen to the lyrics. Most of them appear to be religious, which is cool, but sometimes weird.

Jewish songs are pretty upbeat, and normally don’t contain any more content then a how-to on making a clay dreidel—which is helpful to people of all religions, if you ask me.

I hope everyone has a great winter break, and a great Christmas. Christmas for Jewish people is full of air conditioned movie theaters, family bonding and beef and broccoli.

Chinese restaurants seem to be the only ones open on Dec. 25, so instead of ham and mashed potatoes, I get to eat Mongolian beef and dumplings.

Sure, Christmas trees are beautiful, but does it illuminate for eight nights? Well yeah, I guess lights on the tree are up for about a month, but you get my point.

It’s hard to not get sucked into the Christmas spirit, with all the commercials, music, movies and more.

So to all you Christmas celebraters, if your Jewish friend is humming “Jingle Bells,” or wears a Santa hat, let them be. We won’t get mad if we see you spinning a dreidel.

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