Friday, December 18, 2009
Wish Them a Merry Christmas Anyway
I work under the auspices of a typical PC school district in a large city in the US. The kids I have to deal with have issues about telling their friends Merry Christmas, as they leave for a 2 week break. "No! You have to say 'happy holidays'!", I hear them saying, sotto voce.
This is the very same school district that had no qualms whatsoever about taking half a day off and spending tens of thousands of dollars of tax money to bus the entire 5th to 12th grade population to see the Dalai Lama last year. Some of those kids still wear the souvenir shirts of that event to school.
Imagine the uproar if it had been the Pope! I knew at least one parent who was upset about this, and I'm sure there were many more. Did the ACLU step in and challenge this pro-Lamaist use of state funds? Hell no! No more than they did to stop Orthodox Jews from stripping the streets of public bicycle paths in Brooklyn.
So I decided to be subversive. As the kids left, I wished them a Merry Christmas.
It turned out that the more I said it, the more the kids felt it was OK to say to each other. What they have been told, apparently, is that it's impolite or somehow "offensive" to wish someone Merry Christmas. By saying it to them, repeatedly, I was in essence, telling them it was allright. They've never been given that message by an adult in their school system.
I lived in Japan for close to a decade. Japanese celebrate Christmas - not as a religious holiday, but as a seasonal one. They just happen to like it. And most Japanese describe themselves as non-religious, or not understanding religion. The Thai have downtown Bangkok dressed up in Christmas decor in December, and most of them are Buddhist.
You cannot offend a Japanese or a Thai by wishing them a Merry Christmas, but for crying out loud, don't ever try that on your local Rebbe. The next thing you know, you'll get arrested for a hate crime.
Jews have been "offended" by any reference to Christ since about the year 0, when Herod was scouring Bethlehem to kill all male babies under the age of 2 years. You don't see this sense of "offense" in other cultures when it comes to Christmas, or Christmas greetings. To some Jews, saying Merry Christmas to their face is the equivalent of a sucker punch, unless they're running Macy's, in which case it's good for business.
Not all Jews hate Christmas. However, for a sizable number, the Christmas season is, well, just "uncomfortable". Sarah Silverman, with her neurotic anti-Christian diatribes, is just the tip of the 'berg.
I had an Israeli-American roomate in college, who hated everything about Christmas, including seeing kids sitting on Santa's lap in the local mall. She'd mock them as she walked by, seething with emotions that were a mixture of jealousy and contempt. The coup de grace was a "Christmas" party she had, with one of her boyfriends showing up as the crucified Jesus. I think she might have been a little pissed that the Jewish psych major she was after was infatuated with a blond shiksa who lived on our floor.
A Jewish Communications major at my university hosted the Christmas show on the school's radio station. He'd play songs that would mock Jesus (for example, the tune "Jesus is Easy", by another Jew, Martin Mull), and then snicker afterwards as he set up the next selection from the anti-Christ playlist. This university is funded by the state. This idiot's radio show was run on state funds. ACLU, where were you then?
It is this type of neurotic hatred has tainted the Christmas season. In a country where Gentiles outnumber Jews almost 100 to 1, and where Christianity is still the majority faith, how did we allow this simple little phrase of caring to be hijacked and turned into an "offense"?
Christmas has been historically a season of love, of sharing, of caring for your neighbor. And it needs to be kept that way. Show your neighbor your love this season. Wish them a Merry Christmas. Everyone.