Identity, Religion

Sugar-Coated Holiday Ennui

Yesterday a good friend told me that according to her father, candy canes are supposed to be the bones and blood of Jesus in edible form, and for this reason, she was not allowed to eat them as a child. Before this conversation, I thought that the main thing that might cause parents to discourage/forbid their children from eating candy canes was the fact that if you suck on them long enough, they’ll form a sharp point that would be ideal for stabbing someone. Either way, I dislike Christmas.
When I was growing up, it was celebrate Christmas, fake it, or be extremely bored. The streets of the medium sized Northeastern city where we lived was desolate on all holidays and on Sundays after 5. I didn’t know anyone Jewish who wasn’t in some way in a Christmas situation (including my family), and so I’d buckle down and watch Christmas tv and listen to Christmas music and still feel deeply, intangibly lonely.
Jami Attenberg, one of my favorite writers, posted a piece on her personal blog last week about December being a month that’s always hard. I think that for me it has to do with my refusal to indulge tinsel and lights and pine smell anything infused by/with Christmas infused mirth. This is based in: a) feeling exhausted by the consumerism of the holiday season, b) trying to pretend I’m not assimilated, which is of course, false, being that I’m an American Jew. There’s no use in putting up this front at Christmas when it’s something that I have to deal with all year. Living in Manhattan is certainly a change from the days of yore, what with things being open and people roaming the streets, but even with all the movement, or perhaps because of it, something feels heavy and overwhelming and at the same time, empty.

6 thoughts on “Sugar-Coated Holiday Ennui

  1. My feeling this year is a big change from my usual Christmas grumpiness. I live in intentionally multi-religious housing at school called Spirituality House. We decorated the our kitchen for the season a few weeks ago. I put out some Chanukah crap, but I didn’t feel weird putting out a wreath on the kitchen door.
    Christmas co-opted most of what we think of Christmas-y to begin with. Which is not to say that I’m making a value judgement. It’s OK that cultures that have cold winters bring some evergreen examples of nature indoors during this time of year. It’s OK that Christian cultures made Christmas that holiday. And it’s OK for Jews to bring a little light and nature indoors this time of year too.
    So I decorated my dorm room with some really delightfully tacky crap this year. And it felt good.

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