When I was about 7 years old, the news of Vatican II made Christmas and Easter easier for Jews to endure, when Pope John XXIII decreed that Jews were NOT responsible for the death of Jesus. Though I was a small child, I was aware of religious differences, as we were one of two Jewish families in an otherwise all Catholic neighborhood with two or three other Protestant families. To keep it simple, our family celebrated Christmas until it was obvious that no one in the hood was buying the Santa Claus line. Our parents didn’t want to be the ones to “kill the Christmas spirit” for our friends and neighbors who attached great importance to it.
I’ve always enjoyed Christmas as an extra holiday, and the fact that people are a little nicer to each other, if only for a few days. Sometimes it brought pleasant surprises. I tasted my first egg nog when I was five at the home of my GF Patty Morgan. (Jews & Catholics start early.) To me Christmas meant the taste of a sweet, milky, eggy treat. (Separate punch bowl for the kids with no alcohol.)
The only “War on Christmas” is prosecuted by phony Christians who are so busy declaring enemies and shouting damnation at non-Christians, they forgot how to “walk the walk” if they ever knew!
It’s sad that some phony Christians have politicized the holiday and created a phony would-be “War on Christmas.” The only “War on Christmas” is prosecuted by phony Christians who are so busy declaring enemies and shouting damnation at non-Christians, they forgot how to “walk the walk” if they ever knew! This war is waged by corporate retailers, self-aggrandizing politicians and false prophets of $mega-churches, who foment an annual “war” as a fundraising tool.
There are some beautiful things about the Christmas season including a spirit of sharing and generosity. Some of the Christmas song melodies are so pretty, I want to write different lyrics. Because I went to public schools where news of the Establishment Clause was late in reaching my hometown, I was required sing Christmas carols with my classmates, which I didn’t mind; and read aloud from the New Testament, which I found MOST objectionable. So I still know most of those songs, though I choose not to sing along. Don’t forget that Irving Berlin, a Russian Jew wrote “White Christmas.” But this Jew finds that to be one of the most depressing songs in any genre of music. It sounds like a dirge rather than a celebration of deity and family.
A lot of the music is oppressive and some of the big chorale works feel threatening. I cried out in terror the first time I heard that live, out of fear that all those ugly men in those colorful costumes were going to march off the pulpit, and subject me to a gauntlet of punishment for being a little Jewboy. Other aspects of the season are brutally exclusionary, beyond “if you don’t love Jesus, you’re going to hell.” The biggest salvo in the “War on Christmas” is the message from retailers and phony preachers, that if you don’t spend $1000 on silly presents, you’re not a good person. If you’re not home with your family, you deserve punishment, and longing for nice weather is a sin.
Then there’s the hypocrisy factor: Why be generous for only 12 days out of the year. And I don’t mean from Christmas Eve through Twelfth Night; but the 12 days prior. And this just in: its TWELVE days; not TWENTY-FOUR, or FOURTY-EIGHT. Maybe starting Christmas advertising on All Saints Day builds the value as a sales tool for retailers, but it cheapens and diminishes the spiritual aspects of the event.
And please don’t talk to me about ugly sweaters. Why, oh why? When one considers all the magnificent edifices “Built to the Glory of G-d,” why would these same people knit and weave some of the most hideous fabric art unimaginable? Certainly not for the “Glory of G-d.” What then? Does the ugliness of a sweater convey how much one loves Jesus? If my sweater is uglier than yours, does it mean that I love Jesus more than you do and therefore, am a better Christian? If I know all the words to “Good King Wockenfuss” and you don’t, does it mean that I’m a better Christian? NO, because I’m a Jew and I just remember the words from my 8th grade choir.
So…lighten up ya’ll. It’s a holiday and time to chill. So, cut up a bud, roll up a big one and pass the soft egg nog.
H. Scott Prosterman