The Holidays From A (Sort of) Jewish Girl

The big controversy these days is how the major holidays (xmas, Easter, etc.) might be making minorities feel left out and I thought I’d share some of my feelings on this as a girl raised with eight days of Chanukah instead of 12 days of xmas.

The first chunk of my life I was mostly surrounded by other Jewish kids since I went to a Jewish private school but starting 7th grade when we moved, I began a whole new part of my life in public school. Immediately I realized how different it was and quickly realized I was one of very few Jewish kids.

Most of the Jewish kids I knew were not really Jewish as they had the xmas tree and looked forward to Santa’s gifts in the morning. I, on the other hand, celebrated the 8 days of Chanukah usually on weeknights (didn’t get it off from school) along with lighting the candles every night with a prayer.

I won’t lie, I always felt left out and became very bitter towards xmas as it became bigger and bigger as I got older. Every year I dreaded this time of year more and more. The moment I hear one of the xmas carols or see a store filled to rim with santas I can’t help but cringe.

I’ve noticed also that people get a lot more cranky this time of year, especially drivers and shoppers. Once Thanksgiving comes around I try to avoid the mall if I can and if I need to buy anything I try to just do it online. I’m just not interested in being cut off on the highway by a minivan or knocked over by an anxious shopper. No thank you.

In school I did do my part to change some things. I encouraged the xmas concert to be the holiday concert (back in the 90s) and I convinced the band director to include some Chanukah songs. I even, one year, sang the Chanukah prayer in the holiday concert with another Jewish girl. I’m still very glad I stood up for all the other Jewish kids who just sit by the sidelines.

So personally, I’d rather all the xmas lights, xmas trees, xmas decorations, xmas songs and xmas everything not be shoved in face. I’d rather it not be SO much because despite the fact I avoid most holidays I am also am reminded how I felt left out as a kid. Do whatever you want in your own house and on your own time but does it really need to be everywhere?

  1. Sarah

    December 4, 2006 at 11:46 am

    My boyfriend doesn’t want Xmas in our house at all, when or if we have kids. He doesn’t want Santa either. We were both raised Christian, but now are pretty much atheists (well, I say agnostic, because I haven’t seen a good enough argument either way). I, on the other hand, would want a tree and decorations because I think they’re pretty. I would want stories about holiday cheer, because they emphasize people being nice to each other. I would worry about my kids feeling left out. But I do think it is way overboard these days — I saw Christmas in the store before Halloween this year. Also, I totally agree that secular holidays don’t belong in schools. Or if they do, there needs to be, for example, an art project for each religion or holiday. The Christian mentality is pretty pervasive and scary sometimes.

  2. Sarah

    December 4, 2006 at 11:46 am

    Heh. Sorry, I meant religious holidays, but I said the exact opposite.

  3. Robin

    December 4, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Sarah – Yeah Erik and I are pretty much the same. We just aren’t religous people and never really have been. I find Judaism to be a big part of who I am but it’s not an active part of me. I could never do the xmas thing but that’s because I feel it’s become exactly what it wasn’t meant to be. I think people are so stressed during this time of year there is rarely people being nice and giving. If we ever had children I will not be doing xmas or any of the other stuff. I know they may feel left out but we’d do our best to make them feel ok with how we choose to be. I would just like to have xmas out of my life as much as possible.

  4. Maureen

    December 4, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Every family should do what feels best for them and teach their kids the same. If you’re confident in what you’re doing and communicate it honestly with the kids – and let them communicate their concerns honestly with you, they’ll be fine.

    Just cause everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to jump on the bandwagon, too. Just try to ignore it all & do what feels good for you! It’ll be over soon.

    Personally, I just try to ignore all the negative commercial stuff that’s going on & focus on all of the positive that comes out at this time of year (and try to add to it myself, where I can).

  5. Robin

    December 4, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    Maureen – of course, that’s how it should be. It’s just to ignore a lot of the stuff means to hide a lot. I am though looking forward to a secret gift giving thing at work this year, I love giving.

  6. Chris

    December 4, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    For some reason we end up at the shops more than ever towards Christmas, despite the fact that it’s the most miserable time to buy things.
    It’s like all the household stuff decides to break at the one time of year when I’d rather be hibernating.

  7. Krayzee Chickadee

    December 5, 2006 at 9:18 am

    I totally cannot stand the “Black Friday” and ‘After Christmas’ sales. I purposefully do not shop during these times. Who wants to be around a bunch of shoppers fighting over the last ‘great deal’??!!

    We are the ‘oddballs’ with another holiday – Halloween. We don’t celebrate it, never have (well at least since we had kids). The youngest two always ask why? when all the other kids do it. The most we do is hand out candy at the door.

    I can totally understand your aversion to Christmas. As each year passes, it gets more stressful. But, since most people do have it off of work, it is a good time to get together with family.

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