Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This is what was standing in the lobby of the Long Island Marriott this past weekend. (Pretend my hand didn't shake when I took the picture.) Notice how the "Chanukah" blue and white bows dominate the tree. Unlike the attempt to rename the "Christmas" tree in Boston to the "Holiday" tree, truly this is a Holiday tree.
As a secular Jew, my feeling about "Merry Christmas" has wobbled over the past few years. Mostly, I've been of the opinion that "Happy Holidays" was a well-intentioned effort that ultimately failed to achieve the "goal" of avoiding the Christmas dominance of the end of December. And so I would have been cool with abandoning it in favor of "Merry Christmas" and accepting the burden of getting over it. But that was before all the "War on Christmas" garbage, which brought me to a new opinion, which was:
Hey, if you're gonna be a dick about it, then go fuck yourself.
That was couple of weeks ago. Since then, I've been thinking about connecting this question to another one, illustrated by an SNL sketch from about 10 years ago. It was a year when the first day, or maybe night, of Purim happened to fall on St. Patrick's Day. The opening sketch was TV coverage of a Purim party where, the concept was, all the Jews there were acting like Irish people on St. Pat's, in one key respect: "Today, everyone's a little bit Jewish!" The point being that Jews don't do that, don't act like they're doing everyone a huge favor by sharing their heritage with you and allowing you the fun of being one of us. And, in fact, we get a little testy about the offer to be something besides Jewish, thanks very much just the same.
But the Irish thing got me thinking that this ethnic sharing thing is pretty strong in America, and more people than the Irish get in on it; to the extent that Columbus Day has been appropriated into Italian-American Day, we're all invited to share in being Italian. (And it distracts from that whole Native American thing. I guess they don't have a day.) There are smaller versions in the street fairs of various immigrant or recent-immigrant groups in our cities. And viewed in that context, the natural American reaction to "some people don't celebrate Christmas, they have Chanukah" is "Really? Well, bring on some of that Chanukah and let's all get a look at it! Show us your yummy Chanukah foods, and in the meantime have maybe some fruitcake." So now I feel better about it.
But, still, don't be a dick about it.
In closing, allow me to link to the TV Funhouse video seen on SNL this past weekend, "Christmastime for the Jews". It's a catchy fake-Phil-Spector song with vocals by the real Darlene Love, and the last time I mentioned a good SNL sketch here, Google hits soared. I'm not proud. Also check out the comments on the lyrics (and one odd substitution in the subtitles) here.