The week (not to mention the month) before Christmas is always a crazy one, right?
The world goes a little mad.
There’s a lot of shopping happening, everyone is working to a deadline and there is stress permeating us all.
A number of my friends, each year, ask with interest – and often concern – about my Christmas day plans.
“Tash, you’re a Jew! What do you do?”
“Are you going to an Orphan’s Christmas?”
“You’re welcome to come and join my family!”
But, as kind as their offers and worries are, I assure them I am VERY happy with my own plans.
The plans that can sometimes incite jealousy from those whose calendars are a little too full!
You see, for all of my non-celebrating on December 25th, I have cultivated a tradition of such relaxation, such indulgence, such luxuriating that I really look forward to the day that once felt like the biggest waste of 24 hours in my year.
It starts like this:
- Make sure the kitchen is stocked with all the junk food I could ever possibly crave in a day
- Make sure that I also have some real food – and tasty at that – to enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner – #treatyourself
- Make sure that I have some alcohol in the house, so if the rare desire to drink at home, alone comes over me, I’m prepared
- In the “old days” I used to go to the video store on Xmas Eve, spending a good hour searching through titles and hiring as many as they’d let me in one day… These days, it’s a matter of making sure that my Netflix/Amazon Prime/whatever subscription is fully functional and that the internet is ready for me
The point is – whilst everyone else is rushing madly from one family to the step-family to the in-laws to the family friends and whoever else in between, I’m sitting at home, or lying in bed, or reclining in the bath, undisturbed by the outside world.
And that is the idea that appeals to other people.
And, to top it all off, this year Christmas Eve happens to coincide with the first night of Hanukah!
This means that as well as my day of relaxing and much-anticipated solitude, I’ll have a lovely afternoon before with friends and feast and fun!
I have so many friends who spend the day in so many different ways – whether they identify as Jews, Christians, Muslims or something else entirely.
Whether you work, socialise or become a hermit for the day, there’s no right or wrong way to do anything, least of all spend a day.
I’ve had so many discussions with people over the years about how Christmas Day itself no longer holds much religious meaning to most and so there’s no reason I shouldn’t take part in a Christmas celebration.
I see that point.
I understand what those people are saying.
My counter-argument is that, for me, it is a religious festival – I know where it came from, I understand how its traditions evolved, I respect its sanctity to other people – so, for that reason, just as non-J’s don’t traditionally get on board the fasting train for Yom Kippur, I’m wishing all those who celebrate a Merry Christmas and then leaving them to their own celebrations.
What I’ve observed from the outside is that when it’s boiled down to its essence, Christmas is about celebrating with loved ones and being appreciative of what you have.
Sure, it’s become a capitalist’s dream, but that isn’t what it’s about at its core.
I was recently met with confusion from a Catholic who was confused as to why Jews don’t celebrate Christmas…
“But Jesus was King of the Jews!” he exclaimed.
“Only according to Christians…” I answered.
He, like many people before him, seemed sad for me that I miss out on the fun.
But I get the fun.
I have countless friends and strangers wishing me a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.
I get sent cards and messages.
I am occasionally given gifts.
I feel the love.
And that – all of those elements – is all I need.
Having a day off to restore my sanity in amongst the craziness and feeling the love from people in my life is plenty.
I’ll happily take it on December 25th.
Or on any day.
Meanwhile, I’m also looking forward to an empty house in which I can sing loudly along to any and all musical I desire…
Be glad you’re not my neighbours!