No Christmas tree and no decorations!
Santa is not visiting, and the night is not silent… So no Christmas carols, although there was the year I discovered Elvis singing Christmas songs. The rhythm sounded so different than Andy Williams.
Many years ago – many Christmases ago, we fled the tinsel and the wreaths and the red and the green and would go to visit the snow. Just drive to anywhere there was some snow; and we’d see lots of cars with passengers who looked Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern. So, we knew we weren’t alone- not the only ones not celebrating Christmas, and our kids were not the only ones who felt different.
Nowadays with the kids gone, it’s mostly Chinese food. (Thank you China for sending your people here!) When you step into a Chinese restaurant at Christmas you may as well start singing Hava Nagila and dancing the hora. I feel sorry for the lone gentile or the Indian couple, they must feel like they’re in a foreign country.
And of course one can’t ignore the plethora of new movies starting Christmas day, which is just a bit after the new, good movies appear in movie theatres. Read: Academy Awards season and off we go. So naturally, while Christmas celebrants a digging into their holiday ham, the movie theatres are filled with Jews and other non-celebrating heathens – and maybe someone who’s lonely and has no one to celebrate with?
When you live in a big metropolis such as Los Angeles, there’s always a lot of people like you, even when you’re not a part of the majority. I remember one Christmas-day, many moons ago when I went to the quintessential Jewish Deli, on the quintessential Jewish street – Canter’s Delicatessen, on Fairfax. When I stepped out of the car there was a line almost out to the sidewalk, and I heard the multitude of all of us speaking loudly and together; there was the hustle and bustle of busy mouthy waitresses, and the aroma of chicken soup!
A Christmas Day indeed.
There were the number of times I was invited to a friend’s house to partake in the Christmas celebration, and – truth be told, it was lovely and joyous but it felt like I was a foreign dignitary visiting the locals. I was attending a cultural experience that had nothing to do with me.
So Christmas does not belong to me, even though it’s beautiful and festive, and families get together to open gifts (which would be an anxiety producing experience for me anyway, as I would obsess on getting not too much and not too little but just right. Yes, Goldilocks I have the same neurosis.)
I believe that Christ never celebrated Christmas, just as George Washington never celebrated President’s day- and I doubt he (Jesus, not George!) was born on the date we think he was born … but that’s neither here nor there. Holidays exist for us to give us meaning, and to pause from the ordinary.
So when most of the people in this country will be opening gifts and then eating a festive meal with family and friends, I would be eating Chinese and then watching Les Miserables.
Merry Christmas to my Christian friends, Shalom to my Jewish friends and
السلام عليكم alsalam alaykom to my Arab cousins , Namaste’to the Hindus and 你好’ Nǐ hǎo in Chinese, and can I get another serving of Kung Pau Chicken please?