As a Jewish (ex-)New Yorker, I’ve spent many a Xmas day going to a movie, followed by a dinner of Chinese food. The streets are uncrowded, the theaters only moderately full, and I can get an aisle seat without having to arrive early.
Not so this year. Let the record show that, beginning some time in this century and reaching the tipping point in 2009, Christians adopted this Jewish custom. Apparently they think it’s more fun to join us than to stay home warm and cosy, admiring their gifts beneath the tree and consuming vast quantities. The movie theater was so crowded I didn’t get through the ticket line until after the trailers began, and then staggered to the only available aisle seat way up front. My friendly neighborhood Chinese restaurant–the only place open for miles around–was a mob scene of cacaphonous chaos, and I had to wait an hour just to be seated.
As I discovered later on, this is a definite trend, a movement even. According to the New York Times
the classic Jewish practice of going to the movies on Dec. 25 is catching on with gentiles looking for a break from conversing with relatives, assembling toys or consuming the chocolate Santas that happen to be lying around. Another American Jewish tradition, going out for Chinese food on Christmas, may have crossover appeal as well.
This is chutzpah on the grandest scale. I mean, come on, we started this custom out of desperation and depression, non-Christians in a Christian land who must put up with a three month-season celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus. That our coping mechanism is being co-opted is a situation for which the word chutzpah might’ve been invented.
I’ve got an idea: how about we pull a switch? Next year, all the Jews stay home on Xmas, ceding the public sphere to gentiles. Give this a few years, and eventually December 25th will morph into Movie and Chinese Food Day, with Xmas lost in the shuffle. By this strategy, we’ll do away with Xmas entirely! Of course, it could take a century or two to fully evolve–but hey, who wants to go to movies and restaurants when they’re mobbed? Every great journey begins with a single step. So, whaddaya say?
If not me, who? If not now, when?