eat this with your latkes, old man freud
Yes, this is going to be about Christmas envy. But then tonight is Christmas after all, so the only chance anyone will read this is if they’re Jewish or Orthodox, in which case they (yes, you) likely have Christmas envy too, and I enjoy it when people share my feelings.
The thing about Christmas envy in my view is that it’s completely justified. Let’s look at our options here. If it isn’t Christmas, then it’s either Hanukkah (how the hell do we spell this?) or New Year’s, and both are obviously inferior to Christmas. Here’s why.
First of, Hanukkah – I am, after all, a rabbi’s unspecified descendant! Now Hanukkah is a very greasy holiday. Its only non-kid-oriented traditions beside the candles have to do with cooking and eating foods that are against any sensible diet. We may take the ‘it’s a holiday, so I’ll make an exception just this once’ path. But there’s the trap: eight days. That’s enough to put some extra pounds on any frame, especially mine: pronounced waist, but spelled f-a-t-h-i-p-s.
As for the candles – call me Grinch Goldberg, but no scent, no bathtub, just lots of shoving into tiny waxed-up slots on the menorah, just to have them fall out again – not really my type of fun. They’re supposed to show everyone we’re celebrating, but all they did for me this year was light my cat on fire. I, on the other hand, felt quite clearly and without any guiding lights that everyone was celebrating Christmas, when I was wandering through the empty streets downtown at 5 pm yesterday, trying to no avail to get a simple cup of coffee.
And then comes New Year’s, and here’s the snag: it’s not really a holiday! Nothing holy about it and no story to boot. Hanukkah has a story, and of course, Christmas is all about the Biblical narrative. But New Year’s is devoid of that. It’s not even a whole day; it’s all about the single minute when the number changes. Life doesn’t change, love doesn’t, nothing does but the number on the calendar. But do open the champagne, I need a drink!
Because Christmas is not for us, there’s also the awkward fumble with presents – endless calculations of who gets theirs when; when to go shopping if before Christmas the stores are crowded and after – swept clean out; and whether it’s tactful to show up with sparkling bags at a party where everyone has exchanged gifts on that gleeful morning a week before. If, of course, there is a party, as many people don’t give a damn about New Year’s hereabouts – why would they when there’s Christmas!
I have to admit that I still get Hanukkah cash from three separate sources every year. Somewhat embarrassing, but very handy given the season. And I do love the fireworks, of which we get an almost gratuitously magnificent show every year’s end. But still – I wish there was a way to enjoy Christmas for Jews, atheists, and those still looking.