I’m Jewish and I hate Christmas.  There, I’ve said it.  Do you really need to read any more?

Yet somehow I’m going to muster my strength to tell you more.

I hate the commercialism as much as anybody.  I hate to see people who can’t afford to pushing around two shopping carts at Target or Walmart or Toys ‘R Us loaded with crappy plastic toys that have no scope for imagination.  They epitomize everything I hate about the way we thrust junk on our kids and throw money at foreign toy-makers with recognizable characters emblazoned on their products.  Why again do we need Dora cereal and ice cream?  Why is Spongebob on my backpack and my lunchbag?  Why does my step-nephew have a Disney “Cars” television set?  Why does a four-year-old need his own TV? How did I even get a step-nephew?

More than the overt commercialism, I hate the way Christmas is shoved down our throats en masse.  Whether it’s churches being “clever” with their signboards reminding us of the Reason for the Season or a timeless, heartwarming Santa bringing Coca-Cola to the polar bears population, it’s everywhere.  It’s in the tacky traffic signal colored lights our neighbors string up, the giant blow-up snowmen, reindeer, and snow globes that threaten to jump out at me from the tiny lawns.  It’s everywhere.  I can’t stand shopping during this “season” because of the infernal Christmas carols.  Jewish or not, I have not yet met one person who enjoys the retail nose pollution of the top 140 Christmas songs.  The B101 radio station actually plays this garbage non-stop throughout the month of December.  Can you imagine how much their listenership drops if you don’t count mall franchise stores? 

And don’t try telling me people choose to listen to B101, and choose to play Christmas music in their retail establishments.  Don’t tell me I can choose to avoid these things, because they’re everywhere.  Mr. Apron’s uncle couldn’t attend our play two weeks ago, because on Sunday, the one day a week his store is closed, he had to put up his Christmas display in the front window and decorate the store.  He is a Jewish man, as Jewish as they come, and he is not beholden to any franchise or chain mandate.  This is a Jewish man who owns his own business, and is compelled to deck his halls for fear of seeming heretical. 

Tonight Mr. Apron and I made the grievous mistake of venturing back down to West Chester, PA, where our beloved play was performed 2 weeks ago, to see our friends perform a 40-minute opera in the historic courthouse.  We didn’t know, or had conveniently forgotten, that it was part of the “Old Fashioned Christmas” (their quotes) in the historic downtown.  The drive down was the usual rush hour madness, but what was worse was trying to cram the 6 zillion cars into the 17 parking spots not marked “resident permit parking only, zone A”.  Finally, about ready to give up and drive back home, we found a spot scarcely longer than my little Honda Fit, and into which no other car (save a Smart car, a 3-door Yaris, or a Ford Fiesta) could have fit.  All while slurping down hot soup from Panera. 

I chose soup because we had little time to wait for food to be prepared, and the line was out the door.  (On a Friday night.  In West Chester.  Yes, it’s that kind of town…a town with a vibrant downtown full of acclaimed restaurants, where the populace chooses Panera, a subsidiary of McDonald’s.  But I digress.) I slurped it down while vainly trying to keep the soup off of my new red wool coat.  See how festive I can be?  I burned my tongue because the coat was more valuable to me in the moment, and the faster I inhaled my soup, the lower the liquid line went, as did my chances of spilling.  We rushed to the courthouse, past the sheriff’s deputies earning some pretty overtime, and sat down to a delightful opera. 

I did not sing along with the carols after the show.  I don’t know the lyrics, and even though they thoughtfully provided lyric cheat sheets for the goyim who don’t know the words either, I chose not to sing.  I used to sing.  In 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, when I was in the chorus, I would sing along to the dozen Christmas songs, and one Chanukah song in the holiday program.  I don’t have to sing now because those aren’t my songs, and my parents aren’t in the audience forcing smiles.  They’re fine for other people, but I’m not singing about Christ and Saviors and Bethlehem and the inevitable talk of miracles that seems to pervade all religions this time of year.  They’re not my miracles.  And I’m certainly not singing about figgy pudding. 

If that makes me bitter, bitchy, hostile, or intolerant, so be it.  All my life I’ve been misunderstood by people who were ignorant or intolerant, because I’m Jewish.  I’m not trying to “fight back”.  I’m expressing my rights and my choices.  I went tonight to see and support my friends, who, by the way, did a fabulous job.  And I don’t think anyone noticed my mouth not moving, or missed my voice when they wished each other a Merry Christmas. 

So then we left, and had to fight our way through yet another anxiety-producing situation.  In the 45 minutes since we had entered the courthouse, approximately 42 thousand merry souls had descended upon the streets wearing Christmas sweaters, Santa Claus hats, and balaclavas.  And they were all, each and every one of them, blocking my speedy egress.  I held onto Mr. Apron’s hand tightly, and he steered us through the merriness.  We fought and clawed our way to the street corner, where the conveniently located opening in the police barricades was completely blocked off by people trying to get a good look at the impending parade. 

Yes, a parade.  At 8 o’clock on a Friday night in December.  To mark the “Old Fashioned Christmas”.  The only thing old-fashioned we saw was one strange man wearing a top hat.  I heard decidedly not-old-fashioned Christmas music being pumped into the streets by some definitely not-old-fashioned DJ setup.  I saw some decidedly not-old-fashioned commercialized festivities.  And I wanted out more than anything.  I hate huge crowds of people.  Being 5 feet tall, I cannot see over most people’s heads, and in trying to see where I’m going, I trip over small children and strollers.  Mr. Apron’s bony shoulders and 6 foot tall frame edged his way through some stubborn parade watchers, and he led me across the street, through another throng packed tightly at another “opening” and, finally, away from the madness, passing only disgruntled teenagers with pink hair, dressed in black, and smoking cigarettes.  I hated them, too. 

I tried, folks.  I wore my red coat, I persevered in finding a parking spot, I did not have a complete nervous breakdown in the middle of the street.  But it found me anyhow.  Somehow it came.  It came with small children, it came with police barricades.  It came without sparkles or snowdrops or grenades.  I hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming; it came.  Somehow or another it came just the same. 

And that’s just fine.  Just don’t shove it down my throat. 

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