My daughter sent a text the other night. She lives and works in the Bronx, and was out with a group of her friends from work who were discussing--for reasons that would take far too long to explain--bagels. The text asked, in essence, whether it is acceptable to eat strawberry cream cheese on a bagel or anything at all (including nothing) on a cinnamon raisin bagel.
My wife and I did not confer and we did not ponder the question. We merely sent back a message suggesting that such things are abominations and that we thought we had brought her up better than that. Which was precisely the answer she was hoping for, as she was settling a bet with friends.
Jews don't eat sweet bagels. Because those aren't bagels. They're pastries with a hole in the center.
So there's clearly a disconnect at times between those who are of the more Hebraic descent and those who are, you know, not. We're sticking our toes into the time of year when this lack of communication is most pronounced, so perhaps it's time to clarify the minority position. If you know what I mean.
Before we go any farther let me be very clear: I do not pretend for one second to speak for all Jewish (or non-Gentile) people. I don't pretend to speak for all Jewish people on my block. I detest generalizations and do not believe in stereotypes. However, this season especially tends to emphasize one culture over most others, at least popularly. And for those of us in the minority, to be honest, that gets to be a drag after a while.
So from this secular Jew to the rest of the world at this particular time of year, a few hints:
- The Christmas music has already started. It started in mid-November. That's too soon, and you know it.
- Christmas music in public places should be limited to the week before the holiday and end at midnight December 26. The second Christmas is over.
- We actually don't all play Klezmer music in our homes.
- We don't all call our female parents "Mama."
- We honestly aren't offended when you wish us a merry Christmas. We think it's a sign that you're not noticing us, but we're not offended.
- P.S. I'm not wrong to want you to acknowledge that I don't actually celebrate Christmas. I just don't care all that much.
- And don't say, "Oh, sorry! I meant happy Chanukah!" You're not fooling anybody.
- Cards with pictures of biblical figures, however, should be held back from non-religion-appropriate friends. Unless the pictures are autographed and can be authenticated.
- Never argue that Christmas "lasts only one day." I've seen tinsel-y stuff on sale since August. Christmas lasts six months.
- Turn off your TV set five minutes before the end of the Thanksgiving parade. Forget Santa Claus. He's only trying to sell you things.
- Don't believe anything Jackie Mason says.
- Let Thanksgiving be about Thanksgiving. Think about what's good in your life and if you think that comes from a higher power, appreciate it.
- Chanukah does not compete with Christmas. Frankly, Chanukah is roughly on the Arbor Day level. It's strictly commercial attrition and it's not a fair contest.
- Honestly, Chanukah takes up 10 minutes of our day. The rest of the time we're trying to digest brisket.
- You may certainly invite us to whatever holiday parties you hold. Just don't expect us to join in the carols.
- But remember that many of your favorite Christmas songs were written by our guys. I'm just saying.
- No, we don't know what "Hava Nagilah" means, either. But the "have two nagilahs" joke has passed its expiration date, okay?
- There is no war on Christmas. There isn't even a pillow fight on Christmas.
- If it doesn't snow on Christmas Eve guess what: You don't have to shovel on Christmas.
- Who told you it was okay to go to a movie and get Chinese food on Christmas? That's OUR thing. You get everything else.
- Last thought: Books make excellent gifts, and GHOST IN THE WIND will be published a week from tomorrow, on December 1.
- Last afterthought: Is it really necessary to basically close television for a month and a half? Thank goodness for Netflix.
I sincerely hope no one is offended by my observations. But someone will be; that's inevitable. People are sensitive about holidays in general and religion pretty much pervasively, so offense is hard to avoid. Keep in mind that besides the fact that I'm an old curmudgeon (and you can ask anyone who knows me) this post is meant to entertain. I'm not taking back any of the points above, just saying that if you disagree with any or all of them, that's your right. I don't expect everyone to agree with me on ANYTHING, and am constantly surprised whenever they do.
Meanwhile, if you want to be thankful this week and help make someone else who really deserves to be thankful as well, guess what! Here's where you can donate to help our own Erin Mitchell cope with her obscene medical bills.