December 25, 2008

I Hate Christmas

So the Chanukah holiday madness continues to plague my life. Ok, that is a really unfair characterization of one of my favorite holidays, but I kind of like the way that it sounds. So because I like to use this blog as both a place to vent and a chronicle of my life allow me to share more notes about the current Chanukah season.

Chanukah season comes from the mouth of the almost eight-year-old boy that lives with me. The guy I call "Little Jack" told me he hates Christmas and that Christians don't know how to share. I look down at the big guy and say that there is no reason to hate Christmas. He replied with a large dose of almost eight-year-old boy logic and reason.

"Christians need to share the holidays with us. All we ever see are Christmas decorations and Christmas songs. Why aren't there more Jewish things. That would be more fair."

Being the good father I smiled in a fatherly way and said "there are a lot more Christians here and because of that there tends to be more Christmas stuff. There is really no reason to hate it."

He grimaced at me and said that there was no reason why they couldn't share better and that for every Christmas show there should be at least one Chanukah. I told him that I understood, but sometimes life isn't fair and that it is still not a reason to hate the holiday.

"But dad, they are celebrating a lie. Santa Claus is a fat faker!"

I asked him why he said that and where he had heard such things. He told me that I had taught him that Santa was fake and that we didn't believe in Christmas or Christian things.

I replied and told him that was correct and then asked him if I had ever told him that he should hate Christmas or that it was a lie. And that was where he really hit me with another solid dose of almost eight-year-old boy logic and reason.

"No, you never said any of those things. But if it is not real then it must be a lie and I hate being lied to. And I really hate being lied to when people can't share. Why can't they share better!"

Now I have to admit that I can see exactly how he came to his conclusions and part of me was proud of his deductive reasoning skills. However, I don't want him running around saying these things to other people.  It is not right and I made sure that I explained it to him.

I told him that it is ok for people to have other beliefs and that we didn't care. As long as they are not forcing those beliefs upon others we don't care. I explained that if someone told him that his beliefs were predicated upon a lie he would be angry. He asked me to repeat that line, "predicated upon a lie" and then asked me to explain what it meant. Note to self, don't be surprised when he uses that line upon me. 

We went back and forth for a few more minutes about being tolerant and why I would be intolerant of him telling other kids that Santa isn't real and that Christmas is a lie.  Eventually he told me that he understood, but he did tell me that he wants to talk to Santa. I asked why and he told me that he wants to tell him that he shouldn't try and fool kids into believing that he is real.

So the gift I got out of this conversation is the knowledge that the big guy can be just as stubborn and singleminded of purpose as his dad. 

Two days after this conversation he told me that he wants to go visit one of our elderly neighbors to help decorate her tree. I hesitated for a moment and then asked him why he'd want to help if he hated the holiday. He looked at me as if I was stupid and said, "I don't hate it that way dad." And then he proceeded to make me feel very proud as he told me that he thought that since our neighbor was old it would be really nice to help her decorate her tree and make her smile.

A few other notes to share. Every Chanukah we tell the children that we need to go through their old toys and find some to give away to children who don't have any. The dark haired beauty was irritated with her older sibling and tried to show it by piling up some of his new gifts and suggesting that they would be good gifts for other kids.

As you might imagine this was not well received by the big guy. His father however has to admit to trying hard not to smile. It is hard not to when a pretty little girl in a princess dress smiles at you. Oh did I mention that she used her magic wand to give to me everything I want including "super magic."

Not quite sure what "super magic" is, but I think that it must be pretty good. Maybe I'll do some research upon this and report back later. That is it for now.

12 comments:

ilanadavita said...

Interesting little guy!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just found your site. We have small children that also amaze (amuse) us with their wisdom. I can relate to "the big guy's" sentiment about Christmas. We are Christian and while we love Christmas, we do hate the commercialism that has begun to define the holiday. I get tired of every venue trying to make money from a day that is holy to us. I was just musing the other day how the original "St. Nick" would feel about the evolution of Santa Claus. We are Mormon and sometimes feel as a minority in society. I expect everyone at some time or another feels that way. What we have done to counter that feeling is to embrace others' holidays. We bought a lovely menorah and talked to a rabbi about how to respectfully celebrate Hanukkah as Gentiles. We celebrate St. Lucia's Day. I would love to participate more fully in Kwanzaa if it were at a less busy time of year. We recognize Cinco de Mayo and honor the Chinese New Year. The kids love learning about others' traditions and histories. I hope it encourages the understanding that we are all universally connected as human beings and children of God. Your son has demonstrated how smart and loving children are. If we in the world could just follow their example!

Leora said...

My daughter (age 6) also spouts annoyance at Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Thank G-d Xmas is over. My tolerance for it goes down each year. But we still have 3 more nights of Chanukah! Woohoo!

The Misanthrope said...

Smart kid that boy.

Jack said...

ID,

He is.

Anon,

The commercialism of the season is really a bit too much. Thanks for stopping by.

Leora,

Children are fun, no filters on their speech, you get exactly what is on their mind.

Anon,

I hear you. My kids asked for a Watkins-Ripper treat.

M,

That he is.

Rivster said...

It's such a hard month to be us! On the one hand, we know that Chanukah is such a piddly-minor blip on the liturgical calendar and it is annoying that it gets conflated simply because of it's proximity to Christmas. On the other hand, it does feel insanely unfair that EVERYTHING is Christmas-y from Thanksgiving til New Year's Day with a few token Chanukah songs, cards, or whatnot as a pathetic afterthought.

Maddening, really. Guess there's just no winning with us.


This was our daughter's first year in public school and she's not had to deal with this before. The more-experienced big brother (3rd grade!) Took her aside and shared some of his secrets on "how to get through it all."

Jack said...

Maddening, really. Guess there's just no winning with us.


Nah, not really. Glad to hear that the the big brother looked out for his little sister.

bernie said...

to those who complain about Christmas: I do not believe in Santa but he visited our home on Christmas eve. I do not believe in goblins or witches but my granddaughter dressed up as a ghoul of some sort for Halloween. No one that I have ever met in my life knows who the hell Saint Valentine is, but they still send flowers and cards on that day.

No one I know is a Pilgrim yet my family has no problem serving turkey on Thanksgiving and having friends and family over for the holiday.

I didn't invent football and I know for a fact that no ancestor of mine ever played the game yet I embraced it as a youth when I came to America.

Football as played in America is different than any other country in the world. But just because the culture of your parents did not invent or participate in an American tradition doesn't mean you cannot enjoy the pasttimes and holidays in your adopted country.

I was born in Uzbekistan but I am not an Uzbek. My parents were born in what was once Belarus but I am not a Belarusian. The nationality of my father was different than the nationality of his father and so on for generation upon generation stretching back for centuries.

One can remain a stranger in a strange land if that is your wish; certainly my father never felt like a Russian even though he was drafted into the Soviet Army, he never felt like a Polack even though he was a Lawyer in Poland, however he chose to be American because he realized that he (and the line of Jews stretching back thousands of years in the diaspora) finally found the promised land.

I celebrate Christmas although I am an Atheist Jew.

So my fellow Jews, Atheists, and even Christians please stop worrying about the commercialization of Christmas. Christmas is an American Holiday, period. Just enjoy it as you would the football season.

Don't like football? Then simply ignore it. Don't listen to the commercials on TV, the news reports all day long on who is getting what multi-million dollar contract or which coach is going to what franchise.

You can either celebrate it or ignore it. But don't make out that since you can't get into the football spirit that you have to make yourself feel left out or that you are some kind of a minority.

If you actually want to celebrate the birth of Jesus then good luck as there is no one, not one church authority that has any clue on even the month he was born in, let alone the day, so everyone just enjoy the holiday for what it is, a winter festival with a lot of pagan, Christian, Babylonian, and yes, even Jewish trappings with American wrapping and festoons.

America turned Christmas into one of the most interesting and colorful holidays in history. Enjoy it or ignore it. But because others enjoy it doesn't mean that it's being shoved down your throat any more than football season is some diabolical device meant to force you into becoming a sportsman.

Jack said...

Bernie,

You are entitled to your opinion, but we disagree on this for a variety of reasons.

Christmas is a religious holiday. You may want to try and separate the two, but that is playing mind games.

Many of my Christian friends are irritated by the commercialism surrounding what they consider to be a holy day.

And the suggestion that you can just ignore it is playing a game too.

The only possible way to do so is to leave the country or stay inside your home because it is everywhere, television, print media, radio, internet etc.

On a personal note I don't see myself as an outsider or feel like a stranger in my own country.

But it doesn't mean that I don't get irritated or have the right to voice my irritation about such matters.

That is the beauty of free speech.

Riv said...

I'm a little late to the comment party, but I had to laugh at your son's logic, Jack. My six-year-old daughter and I had a similar conversation about not bursting the bubbles of the Santa-believers in her class. How do you explain to a child that while we know something isn't true, we can't pass the truth along without hurting others? It's a bit too complex for my own mind at times. :P

Thanks for an excellent blog...I always enjoy reading your thoughts.

Jack said...

Hi Riv,

Thanks for stopping by. You're right, it is hard to explain to the kids that sometimes telling the truth upsets people.