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The other day I was sitting in a coffee shop in SF minding my own business, being tortured by an endless barrage of sentimental Xmas songs coming through the loudspeakers. It’s time, I realized, to post my annual rant about this irritating, phony, commercial season that’s foisted upon us earlier and earlier every year. Originally a performance piece, here it is:



So, nu? It’s not enough that I’ve been hocked to death by Xmas for six decades, now it’s Chanukah too?!

Christian America has been trying for years now to pacify Jews with misguided notions of equal time: televised menorah lightings, dreidl dolls with curlable hair, latke dinners at 25 bucks a plate. Children’s books on Chanukah spill from bookstore shelves—I saw one in which Chanukah was interwoven with the birth of Jesus.

I guess it serves us right for draying so much about being excluded: Christians don’t understand our tribal custom of guilt-tripping, which calls for no response other than…well, expressions of guilt! Enough with the Chanukah bushes already! I don’t want Chanukah any more than I want Xmas. Not only is it a minor holiday, it isn’t even politically correct: it commemorates some sort of Jewish war victory. No one used to pay any attention to it, not even Jews. But the more Xmas fever rose, the more obvious the inequality became. (By the way, Xmas as a national disease is about to go official, with the American Psychiatric Association planning to list Xmasphilia in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)

Xmas deserves that listing: it isn’t a holi-day, it’s an event that lasts from October through January. That’s three months, or one-quarter of the year, or 25% of the time we spend on the planet. I’ve done the math: If I live to 75 I will have spent roughly 18 years coping with the anger, resentment and depression induced by the so-called holidays.

The real tsuris is that I’d finally gotten a handle on it, when suddenly, after years of encouraging me to deny my ethnicity, Christians started pressuring me to become a Real Jew. Carolers arrived at my doorstep singing “O Chanukah” and “Dreidl, dreidl” in four-part harmony, demanding latkes. I received an ecumenical card, “As we celebrate Xmas and Chanukah…” When I objected to the wreath in my office, the person who hung it let loose with an incoherent, sentimental ode to menorahs. Huh?

Fellow Jews, we must act, and fast, before a dreidl decorates every streetlight, and Day-Glo stars of David invoke guilt and capture gelt. We must organize so that come next October, when electronic menorahs play “Little Star of Bethlehem,” we’ll rise up in unison and shout



This year's hot item

This year’s hot item


4 responses »

  1. Come now, just think of the happiness these celebrations bring to the manufacturers of crap goods and the places that sell them. I can’t wait until the powers that be decide we need to promote ALL “holy festivals” of ALL religions then with a bit of luck we can have festive decorations and music every week and think how many holidays we’ll have!

  2. I am about the least religious person around, but what I came to realize after dating and meeting the family of a non-Jewish woman (who is now my wife) is that Xmas and Chanukah are not (to us, anyway) religious holidays, but are secular (northern winter seasonal) holidays devoted toward winter imagery and our response to it (drawing closer to each other for warmth, in home and heart, and giving and accepting presents). I was an only child, a non-religious Jew, and my parents are now dead, but I was accepted into a larger, loving family and have celebrated Xmas as a secular, seasonal holiday with them for the last 14 years.

    So, bring on the malls, the Santas, the carols, the tinsel, and (in Nebraska, anyway, where I spend the holidays), the snow! Christmas and Chanukah are fine, and joyous, without Christ or Maccabean history. I love the sparkly cookies and the latkes, and hey, any excuse for a party!

  3. What Michael C. Berch said.

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