Saturday, December 25, 2010

Come all ye faithful

This week a good friend asked, "so what do Jews do on Christmas?"

It's a good question, because Christmas just seems so universal, doesn't it? Everybody's getting in on Christmas. The stores that stayed open for 24 hours on Thursday night to accomodate Christmas shopping are now closed in honor of Christmas and our mail wasn't delivered and the TV, if we had had it on today, undoubtedly would have been broadcasting Christmas specials all day on every channel.

We have friends celebrating Christmas in many ways: in worship, in eggnog, in clouds of hyper-shredded wrapping paper. I hope if you did any or all of those things, you had a wonderful, inspiring, fulfilling and indulging holiday. But we didn't happen to do any of those things today. We slept in and read books and played in the snow and had family naps. It was a lovely but ordinary day.

So the real question is, "what do you do when you're not doing what everyone else is doing?"

I soooo understand the framework of that question, because it really does seem like everyone is Christmas-ing right now. And having grown up in a tiny Jewish community in a mostly Christian town, I can relate to that perspective easily.


One of the things the lovely husband and I love about where we live is that it's so very diverse. For one thing, we're not the token Jews, and I am so grateful for that. For another, there are piles of other faith communties here, too, some ethnic Christian, and many not Christian at all. We pass these beautiful buildings every single day in our regular meanderings:

(Cambodian Buddhist Temple)

(Our Lady of Vietnam Catholic Parish)

(St. Andrew Ukranian Orthodox Church)

(Hindu Temple)

(Muslim Community Center)

What we do isn't what most people do, but neither are we the only minority around. And I love that about where we live.

I hope your day, whatever its level of signifcance, was everything you wanted. Pin It


Ninotchka said...

Gorgeous post, friend. Thank you for the insight. Looks like you live in an amazing place. xoxo

Emily said...

You have so much gorgeous architecture where you live! These pictures are great!

As for the larger message of this post, I think there's a lot to be said for that feeling of community: the feeling that you're either doing something or *not* doing something in tandem with a large group of friends and strangers who share your cultural traditions (religious or otherwise). We sort of missed that this year. Christmas isn't a major holiday in Japan and (obviously) most of our American friends celebrated a day later than we did here. I guess what I'm saying is, it's nice to feel like you're part of something larger than yourself, especially when you're in the minority. I totally understand that and I'm so glad you have that sense of belonging where you live. Happy not celebrating, Robin!

This Heavenly Life said...

I wondered about your family on Christmas Eve while I was making cinnamon rolls :) I wondered exactly the things you addressed here, and how the holiday would impact your lives. And I love your answers!

It's so awesome that you're surrounded by all these faiths every day, so you don't feel completely hemmed in by Christmas, and even better is knowing that you actively discuss those faiths with your children. You experience and learn about them together.

Have I told you lately that you inspire me? (End cheesy moment...)

Merry birthday weekend!

Laura said...

I love this post. I had a jewish friend growing up but they liked christmas trees and in turn had one so part of me felt like they had a mini xmas which numbs the idea of their real religion as a child. But you do wonder what the rest of regilions are up to on such a commericalized day in the US. Now my mind is at rest cus it really can be just another day without being a bad day. Also the churches around you are amazing!. I've never even seen any like that. I'm surrounded by white pitched buildings without much splender. Happy non christmas day to you.

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.