Rationalizing in a Winter Wonderland

Cindy Chupack’s piece in the New York Times Style Section, “Jewish in a Winter Wonderland,” is a glorious Christmas “coming out” story, of a married couple, both Jews, who decide to “rebel” and embrace Christmas. The Jewish Christmas dilemma is, of course, a secular Jewish dilemma, one faced by those who feel a void in their spiritual and family-gathering lives and believe Christmas is what’s missing. (Some secular Jews feel no such void, and thus use Internet on Saturday afternoon but have no use for December 25th other than as a chance to perhaps see the “Borat” movie a second time).

Christmas being what it is in America today, empty of religious significance to so many, especially in places like New York, it’s hard to see the harm in those who are not Christians in the sense of believing in Christ as a savior nevertheless celebrating the holiday. Is it worse for an apathetic Jew to celebrate Christmas than for a non-believing person of any other origin to do so?

Chupack’s words give something of an answer:

“In my humble opinion, Jews have yet to make Hanukkah decorations beautiful, unless you consider a blue-and-white paper dreidel beautiful, but what can you expect from a holiday whose spelling is constantly up for debate.”

Ah yes, Christmas should be celebrated not to fit in, not because it’s fun, but because it’s specifically better than anything the Jews have come up with. Christmas should be celebrated out of self-hatred, out of the shame of coming from a tradition so friggin weird that it requires the occasional transliteration. As for the relative beauty of the holidays, this doesn’t seem nearly so straightforward–as any child with pyromaniac tendencies could tell you, an opportunity to play with fire is far, far more exciting than the hanging of giant socks on a mantle.

The most annoying thing about this seemingly endlessly irritating article is Chupack’s bizarre, patting-herself-on-the-back, rationalizing conclusion, which follows a whole riff on how she does actually care about Jewish continuity, what with her Jewish husband and future Jewish children, from whom she will hide this whole youthful Christmas extravaganza (until the day they learn how to put their mother’s name into Google, that is.):

“On the other hand, maybe it’s nice to teach children that holidays can be done à la carte. Every religion, every culture has so many beautiful rituals and traditions to choose from. Maybe celebrating is a step toward tolerating.”

Haven’t we as a society moved pass this sort of PC-inspired nonsense? Are Chupack and her future children planning on observing a really stunning Ramadan as well, just to better understand the Other? Chupack does not so much care about tolerance when it comes to her own group. Jews are just a guilt-providing, ugly-holiday-having, strange-spelling community of losers. So why, then, does she care about continuity? Why not make a point in marrying someone observant of another faith, so as to make absolutely sure her children never have to be put in such an awkward and embarrassing position?

Seriously, “Borat” and bars. December 25th is a day off for many of us, enjoy!

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