Holiday Update

by Bryan on 12/5/2002 at 11:28 AM in In General

Well, I tried to skip out on my picture being taken for later use on a christmas tree ornament, but my boss would have nothing of it. Tomorrow we are supposed to decorate our ornaments. That is something I will pass on - unless I can put a Star of David or a menorah on mine. But then, what is the point? I wouldn't want someone making a manger scene as part of my Hanukkah decorations (if I had any).

I am not sure why I am more bothered by all of this Christmas stuff this year. I have dealt with it all of my life. Heck, we even had a tree when I was a kid (mom's family is not Jewish, though she converted before I was born - to a few this will mean that I am not Jewish, but that doesn't change how I was raised or what I believe).

I have strong memories of a day during the first grade when my mom and the mom's of the other couple of Jewish first-graders came to school and we shared with our teachers and classmates the story and traditions of our minor holiday of Hanukkah. Unfortuantely I don't remember how I felt about doing this at the time. Over the years I have wondered if this one event sheltered me from insensitivity regarding religion (at least in school). As far as I can recall, I was never messed with because of my religion (and rarely for any other reason).

Instead of asking what I got for Christmas, they'd ask about my Hanukkah gifts. I never had to explain why we didn't have lights on the house, or why I wasn't in school during the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur). More than likely, the kids probably thought it was cool that I potentially received gifts for 8 nights and that I was allowed to miss school for the other, more important holidays. Of course what they didn't know is that while I might have received gifts on 8 nights, my parents were no better off than theirs, so in the end we all got about the same amount of stuff. Also, they probably didn't know that while I wasn't in school during the High Holidays, I still had to do any assigned work (due the day I got back) and typically had to take a test earlier if an idiot teacher had scheduled a test for one of those days.

Perhaps the answer is to be more open about my religion -- so people "know".

But I have a problem with that approach. Instead of someone saying "if I had known...," wouldn't it be better to say "I didn't know, and I didn't want to make any assumptions..." (or something similar)? Besides, like I said in my earlier post, my religion is my business. I won't impose my beliefs and traditions on you, please don't impose yours on me.

Are we too closed-minded as a society to realize that we are not all the same, and to be sensitive to possible differences?