Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The non-Christians on Christmas

image via abjam77

We love your happiness, the way the world quiets. I didn't even begrudge you yesterday's snow (but I'll begrudge you tomorrow's). You are joyous. You saved money and shopped, you crafted, you wrapped and hid and kept secrets, and today was the great climax, the season's grand prize. You lit candles and prayed, prepared your hearts and souls, and today was the remembrance you awaited. And now it's dark, Christmas almost over, and you're content. You're sated.

And through it all, we live alongside you. This wasn't our day but this day that is so important to you, we're glad you have it.

This weekend we took the kids to the playground via their new Chanukah scooters. As E went up and down and up the bike trail hill, a jogger passed her yelling, "hey, sweetie, where are your gloves? You better ask Santa for some new gloves!" She yelled simply in return: We're JEWISH!

"Oh," he smiled. "Ask Santa anyway. You still need gloves!"

That's how it goes. Everyone assumes we're Christian. At every friendly stranger's conversation we have to decide: say nothing and be amiable or say something and make you uncomfortable. It's who we are; we're the outliers.

People seem sad whenever we're brought to say that we don't celebrate Christmas. I love how important this holiday is to you and how cherished your traditions are. I love how the world slows for a day to a quiet peace. But we're not missing anything.

When you're all doing the same thing, you give us the freedom to do nothing. We have a gift in Christmas, too. Your holiday closes commerce, business, work, responsibility. Your holiday gives us a quiet family day. It's like a secret in plain sight. We played matchbox cars and dinosaurs and colored. E sewed herself a needlebook for her sewing kit. L gave the whole family temporary tattoos. G played his favorite game of cutting paper into kitchen floor confetti.

When you celebrate Christmas, you give us a family holiday, too. It's an extra day, another sabbath. And I can imagine that if I was single or divorced or childless this day might feel burdensome but in my little Maryland nest it's just a perfect day.

Thank you for Christmas. Merry Christmas.

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