Jewish and Proud

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
It’s the classic holiday problem. I’m the only Jew where I work, and
everyone talks about Christmas all the time. They don’t even have the
sensitivity to talk about the holiday season. It is Christmas Christmas
Christmas all day long. Some days it feels like all they do is talk about
presents to be made or bought, shopping to be done, meals to be
planned. No one acknowledges Hanukah at all, except one person who
made a sarcastic remark about “What a bummer it is you don’t get to
have Christmas.” Add to that the greeting that every checkout clerk at
every store gives me, the “Merry Christmas” that the guy at the gas
station, post office, even the kid who delivers the papers gives. I am
sick of it. I’m not a grinch, but I want some acknowledgement of
cultural diversity.
Jewish and Proud

Dear Jewish and Proud:
Anyone who is not part of the prevailing culture faces exactly this kind
of issue regularly, but December’s the worst. Jews also get a harder
rap at Easter (think about the old “Christ Killers” and pogroms). But
Muslims, Buddhists, and followers of virtually every other non-
Christian faith are also either excluded, or like Jews, cast in the
Grinch-like, Scrooge-like buzz-killer role of holiday wet blanket. No one
deserves to have their holiday undercut by politically correct
grumbling. At the same time, all of us non-Christians deserve
acknowledgement that we count for more than our contribution to
capitalism’s greatest annual spree of consumption.

The best ambassador for goodwill is someone who genuinely seems to
want others to be happy. My advice is to paste on a happy face and
say, Thanks, I’m Jewish, but I hope you have a wonderful holiday
season. If you want to go further, you can print up little cards that say
Happy Hanukah, Kwanza, Merry Christmas (and whatever others) on
one side, and Ten Things You Can Do To Make This A Better Planet on
the other. Then list your own ideas for helping the world, like: Give
charity generously; Consume less and share more; Recycle and re-
use; etc. Either first or last on every list should be Pray and act for
peace and justice.