Alright, it’s officially mid November now. Samhain has come and gone (and it turned out differently than I thought it would). Now we’re balls deep into the “Holiday Season”. Now, I know what you’re thinking: it’s not even thanksgiving yet, how can we be “balls deep”? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all around us Christmas is basically punching us in the face with its cheer. Starbucks Christmas cups are already in circulation, some of the stores I frequent have had Christmas decorations out since OCTOBER (wtf, too soon), and I’ve already seen like 5 stories about the War on Christmas 2015. The holiday season is happening now people, we’re in it RIGHT NOW.
So, what’s a pagan/jewish-ish girl to do? How am I navigating what some might call a hostile takeover of the winter months by a fat man in a red pantsuit?
I’m eating it up, y’all. EATING. IT UP.
I can’t lie to you, I have a serious love/hate relationship with Christmas. On the one hand, I really don’t like how commercialized and materialistic it is, I don’t appreciate being told how to spend my money in general (I bought the no ads subscription to Hulu+ for exactly that reason) and I REALLY don’t like it around this time of year because it encourages people to spend money on stuff they really don’t need. Also, it’s really hard as an interfaith family to have such a dominating holiday like Christmas. I mean, I have three holidays in December this year to celebrate, and Christmas is by far the one that takes up the most mental and physical energy (and it’s not even really my holiday!). Every year Kourtney and I have to think about where we’re gonna be on Christmas day– are we taking a late train up to Grass Valley? Will we go to her brother’s house? Are we staying in and hiding from the world? What are we doing for gifts (if we’re exchanging gifts at all)? Who do we get gifts for, and who do we leave out? I don’t have to think about any of this stuff for my other holidays. Part of that is just bad timing. Hanukkah is a minor holiday, it’s nothing like Christmas at all. Same with Yule, at least for me– it’s still something to celebrate, but it’s not high on my Sabbat list. Christmas is a MAJOR holiday. Minor holidays can’t compete with that, and sometimes I struggle with making a bigger deal out of them than they need to be just to feel like my holidays measure up, if that makes any sense at all.
BUT…. I also kinda love Christmas. I love the colors, the lights, the music, the decorating. This is the time of year where suddenly it’s perfectly acceptable to glitter bomb your house as long as it’s green, red and white. It’s the time of year where you’re encouraged to sing songs about animated snow creatures and a guy who breaks into houses over and over and over again (and its glorious). This is the time of year where baking 10 dozen cookies isn’t overkill, it’s “spreading holiday cheer.” SPREAD SOME THIS WAY PLEASE. I can’t wait for December 1st, which is when I start playing my Guilty Christmas playlist on repeat for 25 days straight. I’m going to watch probably 100 lifetime movies about women falling in love with strangers on Christmas and I will love every second of it. I can’t help it, it’s like it’s part of me! It’s like it’s in my genes, it’s been part of my story since birth.
But sometimes I feel guilty. I wish I could be rid of whatever it is that pulls me towards Christmas. I want to celebrate Hanukkah and Yule without them being drowned out by reindeer and Santa and baby Jesus. It’s not that those things are great, because they are. I just wish that my holidays shone as much as Christmas does. And so sometimes I feel like it’s my job to show the world how great Hanukkah and Yule can be, to prove that their worthy of being celebrated, that they’re just as fun as Christmas. I think it’s because Christmas isn’t mine anymore– I’m not a Christian, I no longer celebrate the birth of Jesus, it’s not part of my religious or spiritual path. I belong to a different path now, with different holidays to celebrate– now they’re mine, like Christmas once was. So now I’ve gotta figure out how to make them a part of me, make space for them in my head an heart, just like I did for Christmas. Sometimes that feels like a battle. And that makes it hard to be part of an interfaith family.
But you know what? I still love being interfaith. Because honestly, I get to be part of some awesome traditions, and I get to share my faith with my family. And having a bunch of holidays all at once means I get more opportunities to spend quality time with the ones I love. Also, the good food helps. So yes. I love Christmas, and Hanukkah, and Yule, and I think this year I’m finally okay with it.