porcelainandporcupines

in which we discuss what the big deal is

Posted on: November 6, 2014

As I mentioned once before, I don’t generally like to talk about Facebook. To me, Facebook is a fine way to waste time at work and regretfully sigh over the boys I was in love with when I was 15; while there are some things on Facebook that I of course find irritating , with the ephemerality of memes and ever-reducing attention spans I know that I won’t be annoyed for very long. At least, not by that particular thing, and certainly not long enough that I’ll have to voice any objection.

Until today, when this started making the rounds.

And while that has been posted by several people who I actually like, it makes me angry. It does. Because, it’s like the religious equivalent of man-splaining; although it purports to show how everyone of all religions are the same, I haven’t actually seen it reposted by any of my Jewish friends. Thus, I feel as though it’s my duty, as the Jew in your life, to discuss why you wishing me a merry Christmas is big deal :

It’s a big deal because I don’t celebrate Christmas.

It’s a big deal because the number of people who are going to unthinkingly wish me a merry Christmas without caring at all that I don’t celebrate Christmas is going to far, far exceed the number of people who are going to erroneously wish you a happy Chanuka.

It’s a big deal because, in fact, no one is going to erroneously wish you a happy Hanukkah. Because all of the Jews in your life know who in their life celebrates Channukah, in the same way that all Canadians in the US can identify their fellow Canadians. So, unless you’re going to go into a store specializing in Judaica to buy gelt and dreidels for your Jewish friends so you don’t gauchely give us candy canes – which, if history is a guide, you are probably not going to do – no one is going to assume you’re celebrating Hannukah in the same way you assume we’re all celebrating Christmas.

It’s a big deal because spell-check doesn’t recognize Judaica, gelt, or dreidels as actual words, even though dreidels are the one thing that literally everyone knows about Channukah.

It’s a big deal because “Happy Hannukkah” is not Hebrew for “Merry Christmas”. It is a Completely. Separate. Holiday. As is Kwanzaa. At least, I think it is; I don’t actually know anything about Kwanzaa.

It’s a big deal because, to some people, these are profound celebrations of their community and faith, and not meaninglessly interchangeable words to be said when it’s cold out.

Mostly, it’s a big deal because it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and not only are you already telling me that I have to be okay with the majority of people congratulating themselves for being completely ignorant of the fact that some people are different than them, you’re telling me that this year, I have to put up with it for two months, instead of just one.

However, I post not just to scold. Are there things that you, as a gentile, can do to better navigate the newly and unfortunately expanded holiday season than posting entitled nonsense on Facebook? Happily, there are! And helpfully, I have a couple of ideas:

Step 1. Take a moment and get over yourself;

Step 2. Make an effort to find out what holidays the people in your life actually celebrate;

Step 3. Find out when those holidays actually fall (hint : they do not necessarily coincide with Christmas; second hint : this information is readily found online, as well as on every single physical calendar printed in the United States);

Step 4. Find out why this holiday is celebrated (optional);

Step 5. On the day that the appropriate holiday falls (see Step 3), express your sincere wishes that the people in your life enjoy their holiday, using the terminology specific to that holiday;

Step 6. On any days that are not the days on which the appropriate holiday falls (see Step 3), or on any day that you are interacting with someone with whom you are not well-enough acquainted to know what holiday that person celebrates, simply tell that person you hope they have a nice day, a good evening, a pleasant tomorrow, or any other non-denominational well-wishes that fit the occasion;

Step 7. Congratulate yourself for being a good and thoughtful human being;

Step 8. Repeat Step 1.

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