XII - Much Better - What Do The Words: "Merry Christmas" Mean (to me)
What Do The Words: “Merry Christmas!” Mean (to me)??
I am Jewish. Christmastime was difficult for me as a child, growing up in West Lafayette, Indiana.
I was emotionally isolated and a loner. During the Christmas season Christianity felt particularly intrusive or “dominant” to me. Our celebration of Chanukah had little effect on my feelings of not belonging with my classmates at Morton School.
I didn’t relate to Christmas trees, Christmas carols, the importance of the holiday, nor the commercial aspect of it – as it was 60 years ago.
Later on, I remember staying in a hostel in Zurich, Switzerland (perhaps in 1972), and going to a Midnight church service as Christmas began. With my limited German, I understood more than those I went with who didn’t know German at all. It was beautiful and relaxing!
Later on, circa 1996 – I joined the “Christmas Party Committee” - which at my request was changed to the “Holiday Committee”. I asked that the music be basically “non-religious” – limited to songs like “Jingle Bells” and was told by the committee head, a supervisor, that it was important to him that songs like “Holy Night” be a part of the celebration, so he would feel “at home” there. He suggested that we add a Chanukah song to make it relevant to me.
Today – some might see an “equity” issue there. I dropped off the committee, discouraged by how it seemed that “compromise” was totally one-sided. A “token song” – was worse – to me then, than no Jewish related songs.
Christmas caroling – nearly always seemed little different than seeing – people going door-to-door to seemingly try to convert me to their Christianity.
It is amazing to hear some speak of the “obvious truths” – of Christianity and/or that we are a “Christian Nation” – where crosses and other signs of Christianity are totally appropriate in public.
I would Not feel better if, for example, there was a 50 foot high Menorah, along with a 10 foot high Christmas tree! Naively, I like to think that we should be a “secular state” which honors multiple traditions, as well as supporting those who may have no religion.
Learning of Paganism, learning of how women were oppressed as “witches”, and discussing the sexism of multiple religions and how religion is used as a weapon against Black and LatinX People and whiteness is “normalized” – seems most appropriate!
Discussing the commercialism of Christmas and serious who Jesus really was – as a radical who almost certainly was not light skinned – or “white” and how Christian Hegemony is equally important to me!
For those who do not want to “Politicize” Christmas, I respectfully suggest that we decommercialize it and bring it more back to its real roots, as well as openly acknowledging that it is “Christian” and therefore not necessarily comfortable or relevant for some who are not Christian.
When you say “Merry Christmas” to me I can have multiple reactions!
If you are Jewish, I’m particularly perturbed!
I wonder – though – why you presume that I am Christian or that Christmas is not a “Christian” holiday. The fact that it is taken as being universal, is not different from being: “white”, “male”, “het”, “neuro-typical”, a native of the United States, cisgendered, upper-middle class or similar – being presumed about all of us – as being “the normal identity”.
I need to catch myself presuming that many I see identify as being “women” or “female” or “she” – while that may not be how they see themselves.
I try to respect others! I try not to presume I know “who” others identify with. I do slip up!
I hope – that you will be curious – about who I am! Me being Jewish is a part of my identity but it is far from all that I am. Presuming that I am “white” will be correct, but my light skin doesn’t mean that. Jews vary from being very light to very dark-skinned. Plenty of dark-skinned Jews go back many, many generations being Jewish! Jews – from Asia and Africa and the Middle East were primarily BIPOC, not white people!
Being Jewish does not mean that I am supportive of Zionism!
“In March 1919,on the eve of the post World War I Paris Peace Conference, ‘Julius Kahn, the German-born Jewish congressman from San Francisco, delivered to President Wilson “A Statement to the Peace Conference” endorsed by 299 Jews. …[T]he document denounced the Zionists for attempting to segregate Jews and to reverse the historical trend toward emancipation.’ Its signers ‘objected to the creation of a distinctly Jewish state in Palestine’ not only because they feared it would jeopardize the status of Jews like themselves in the home countries, but because they found it ‘contrary “to the principles of democracy’ to elevate Jewish immigrants over Palestine’s Muslim and Christian native inhabitants. They explicitly denied ‘the existence of ethnic ties among Jews’ and ‘asserted their wish not to see Palestine “either now or at any time in the future’ become a Jewish state.’ They petitioned instead for Palestine to be ‘made into an independent , free, and democratic state that would not recognize any distinctions of creed, race, or ethnic descent among its citizens.’ “ (18) (p. xii) - Stories of Personal Transformation: RECLAIMNG JUDAISM From ZIONISM, edited by Carolyn L Karcher.
Those were perceptive, amazing words, particularly coming from 1919!!! If they had been heard and honored – the Christian (Palestinian) population would not be dropping significantly year, by year, while Pastor John Hagee (see: https://www.jhm.org/) would not be the most powerful “Zionist”. It is ironic – that (with Israeli Government Support) – if Hagee’s vision comes true – Jesus will come back in the future – and all of us – who are NOT – true believers will face the following:
left behind in the rapture will face a quickly changing world—and the change
will not be for the better. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says that the “power of lawlessness” is
currently being held in check by the Holy Spirit. At the rapture, the true
church is removed from the earth, and the Holy Spirit’s restraint will be
“taken out of the way.” At that moment, the world will have no born-again
believers anywhere. All the Christian workers in hospitals, nursing homes,
orphanages, rescue missions, relief agencies—gone. Every Christian in law
enforcement, social work, and health care—gone. And of course many churches
will sit empty. In addition to the great void in the service community will be
the commencement of God’s judgment on a rebellious world, detailed in Revelation 6—16.
Don’t be left behind. Make sure you are ready for the rapture. Since the rapture is for believers, it is vital that you place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Acts 16:31). Repent of your sin and fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sin. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). The Lord knows who are His, and He will leave none of them behind (John 10:14).
Those who are saved by faith in Christ will not be left behind in the rapture. The saved are like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who are ready for the coming of the bridegroom; they have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). To make sure that you are not left behind, trust Christ. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. The matter is urgent. Trust Christ now.”
I will be left behind! When you say: “Merry Christmas” – to me, I may not run to these things in my spirit and head, but I don’t feel connected to you. I don’t doubt your sincerity! I don’t doubt your intent!
I do, though, often feel not really heard or accepted – as “me”! I don’t ask that you agree with me! I appreciate your respecting how we are, or may be different – related to – your Christianity or your tacit support of it! Thanks!