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