Week 39: For the Rest of Us

September 30, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

Had a weird experience at work that left me angry and looking like an idiot. I told a few coworkers that —  having been raised Jewish in the New York area where we all got off for the Jewish holidays and many of us didn’t celebrate Christmas — I wasn’t really sure when Christmas was. I had a range of a couple dates, but since we were always off for both of them, I really didn’t know.

It spread fast and the department was floored. “Did you really ask when Christmas was?” someone asked.
“Do you know when Hanukkah is?” I kind of fired back.

I shouldn’t have attacked the man who asked it, and he was smart enough to respond that it’s different every year, but I was pissed when he said, “Most Jewish people celebrate both.”

What?! No they don’t.

He said they do, and cited a woman in our company who does. Maybe she’s married to a Christian, I dunno. But I don’t think it’s true that “most” Jewish people celebrate Christmas. It doesn’t make any sense. It makes way less sense than the whole world speaking English. I’m not Christian. I didn’t learn about Jesus. I don’t understand his importance and he doesn’t play a role in my life to either celebrate or recognize. I don’t even know if Christmas is his birth or his death or his uprising. I don’t even know if ‘uprising’ is correct.

I don’t want to offend anybody. I think the fact that we have different beliefs and different upbringings is so wonderful. I love that I’m marrying a Christian and we are weaving different histories together. But I don’t want this kind of confusion hanging around, and I don’t ever want to be somebody who promotes it. So I probably shouldn’t have snapped like I did. I should have taken the moment to educate my really sweet Midwestern colleague that nope, not all of us celebrate it. Not all of us want to.

Although I do love the warmth and family togetherness that Christmas brings into all of our lives.



  1. Denise said,

    Sometimes it gets tiring to have to explain yourself repeatedly to others on the differences we have. And sometimes we snap. But we’re only human and we can’t be perfectly patient all the time.

    I was raised Buddhist, so this Jesus guy and even God was so unknown to me for a long time. I thought Easter had to do with bunnies and colored eggs.

    My uncle is Jewish (though he’s a bit of Buddhist convert), and one time he told me about the Yahrzeit candle as he lit it in memory of his dad, which I thought was so touching and cool and a great way to connect to his roots. I love learning about people’s beliefs and rituals. It’s so neat!

  2. 52weeksofnew said,

    Damn, Denise. You’re amazing. I feel the same way — I want to learn and be open to other people. I do also want them to recognize that I’m here too.

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