Posted on: December 16, 2010
Even as a Christian I was very aware that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. December 25th, the date of Christmas is very close to the pagan Yule Holiday, which is on December 21st, if I’m not mistaken. The date of Christmas was chosen, I gather, in this close proximity to help the new Christians be more inclined to celebrate this new holiday while forgetting their old one. I made this assertion as a young adult in high school to the dismay of many of the sisters who ran the school. Only the infamous Ms L amused my assertions by banishing me to a portion of the room she called the Pagan Babies Section. We weren’t pagans, necessarily, we were just questioning, intelligent shepherds, rather than sheep.
Still, part of the world actually believes with their whole heart that December 25th is Jesus’ birthday. I call it stupidity, some people call it faith. I really don’t care all that much because as a Jew I acknowledge that Jesus was born a Jew. He died a Jew. JESUS IS A JEW! Now before you click away and think I’m one of those Jews that believe that Jesus was the messiah, let me just be clear. I’m still waiting for the messiah, not idly, just waiting for the rebuilding of the Temple, for Elijah to let us know what’s up-you know, the world to come.
All joking aside, the fact of the matter is that December 25th isn’t yet just another day to me. It’s still Christmas and this December 25th will be the first time I’m un-celebrating it. I just e-mailed off an article I wrote for The Sisterhood titled, “Making December 25th Just a Day” in it I talked about what it means for me as a Jew-to-be to be getting very close to a holiday that no longer “belongs” to me. I read it to Mirs and she thought that I sounded sad, that the article was sad. It could be that I am sad, that it’s sad, or that I read it in a monotone voice that could be interpreted as sad. Or, it could be all of the above. Truth is, I’m sad but not about Christmas per se, just the stuff that goes along with it. Family, Friends, Family.
I’m missing my family right now and wishing that I could’ve gotten the time off work to be with them. As much as I argued for my cause with Mirs that fateful afternoon in SoHo, and as much as I still defend my stance, I’m starting to understand what she meant. Unfortunately, because only I am becoming a Jew, not my entire family, Christmas will always be a different thing for me versus what it is for them. Last week when I had Shabbat dinner with my friends we were talking about what Christmas means. The other Jew-to-be had a hard time last year, she’s been studying privately for five years. She told us how she broke down into tears on her mother’s shoulder in her living room surrounded by all things Christmas. It was the first time, she explained, that it didn’t feel right. I don’t know what that feels like yet.
My apartment is decidedly un-Christmas. There are no lights, no garland, no carols. Just my mezuzah, my menorah, my hamsas and the many books on Judaism. I’ve been reading Entering Jewish Prayer by Reuven Hammer on a daily basis and find the words, the reasoning behind the siddur, and the hows and whys of Jewish prayer very comforting-especially given the time of year. I’m definitely sad that I will be alone on December 25th. Most of the distractions I find when I find myself alone will be unavailable to me as not only the world but New York shuts down on December 25th. It occurred to me that not only is it Christmas but it’s also Shabbat so all of the Jewish-owned stores that could be open will not be. I’m sad that I will be here in my apartment with a feline that’s sort of an asshole rather than with my family. I’m sad because I won’t be able to see the delight in my nephews eyes as they open the presents I’ve bought for them. I’m sad because I’ll be alone. I’m not sad or mourning Christmas, but what happens on Christmas-time with family and friends.
We’ve got 9 more days until this whole thing blows over. How are you other converts and Jews-to-be doing?