south park's kyle brovolovski perhaps said it best when he sang, "I'm a Jew, a lonely Jew, on Christmas."Kyle, I, too, am a lonely Jew on Christmas. All my life I've had to endure a month of Noël cheer with only a cold menorah and some dorky dreidels for company. Why, it's just like when I was a bitter little girl and had to go to bed while it was still light outside and lie there listening to the other kids playing.
So this is what I say now: Hanukkah Shmanukkah! Non-denominational holiday cheer? Bah, humbug! If you can't beat the cultural hegemonists, if you can't psych them out with your spindly little menorah and ancient threats of ritual circumcision, then you might as well have a little piece of Christmas cake.
My attempts to become a member of the Tinsel Borg began early. I remember when I was a Bitter Little Girl who sang carols in church with the family of my very waspy best friend named, of course, Holly. But Jesus caught me and struck me down with a stigmata-for-Jews nosebleed in the middle of the service. "Do you think it's because she's Jewish?" my friend's mother asked in hushed and alarmed tones.
This year I have the invite in the proverbial bag already -- I'm going with The Boy to Roman Catholic Christmas in the hinterlands of rural Ottawa. I'm even going to church, for the first time, I believe, since the eerie nosebleeding debacle of 1985. I bought a new skirt for the occasion, only to be told in no uncertain terms that it was too short for church. My protests of "Oh, yeah? In Jewish church this is proper Talmudic length!" have had very little leverage.
But he's promising we'll have a full-on Cape Breton-style Christmas. (Oooh, maybe Ashley MacIsaac will be there and we'll all declare bankruptcy together!) There'll be fiddle playing and jamming and his mom is going to play the piano and his dad is going to play the guitar and I'm going to belt Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel at the top of my lungs and eat Christmas cake (what the hell is Christmas cake anyway?!) until I can barely stand up.
It's a relief from the seasonal stress that begins every October when I start angling for an Xmas invite, fluttering my tempting Jewess eyes at various unsuspecting friends. Last year my friend's confused mother (as in, if she's not your girlfriend then why is she here again?) wore an entire leopard-print outfit, an apron and a perfect blond updo as she dutifully made her Chatelaine Christmas recipes and giggled, sipping her icewine amidst tinsel and tree. Ah, I sighed to myself, now this is Christmas.
Friends' various excuses over the years, including "It sucks -- we sit in silence and watch TV," don't fool me. I know what you're up to you... you... you excluders!!! You're merrily sipping eggnog and watching heartwarming Canadian Tire commercials, chuckling to each other in holiday camaraderie, all the while saying, "Ha, good thing that Jewish Girl isn't here. All she does is eats latkes all day. She sucks."
I don't believe your lies about Christmas letdown potential. Give me your over-processed holiday full of saccharine sentimentality and petty family squabbles or give me death! I'm never going to spend another miserable Christmas nibbling stale Passover matzo and channel-flipping looking for It's A Wonderful Life in a pathetic attempt to partake in the cultural moment.
Even my parents, synagogue members, kosher keepers and purveyors of Hebrew school, have given in over the last several years. They decided that since the goddam (oh, wait, I mean the blessed-by-Jesus-Christ-our-lord-and-saviour) Christians are going to close everything down, they might as well have a party, too.
My parents now throw an "Erev Christmas"(erev being Hebrew for night) soiree every Christmas Eve. But instead of singing carols, usually everyone just gossips -- but, hey, we do our best.
So now I await the Big Day with everyone else. The presents are ready to go, wrapped in jolly Santa paper. And every time I leave to go on some Jewish errand or other, I pat them happily and hum, "I'm a Jew, a lonely Jew, on Christmas...."