Part of me wants to just give up my own personal “war on Christmas.” It’s not my heritage to ignore Christmas. Sure, my mother hated it. Yes, my ancestors from Germany were probably Jewish. We probably will never know. That’s something I have to live with. And if I’m not converting to Judaism (let’s face it, it doesn’t really groove with me), then why the continued resistance to the Christmas fever? My father and sister and grandmother and niece celebrate it. The fiance’s family celebrates it. Big time.
And yet, I can’t really let myself get into it. It’s not part of my perceived identity. Something about it makes me feel icky all over. Christmas trees tend towards tacky. Wreaths are such surefire cultural markers.
But the lights are so pretty. I used to love Christmas. Before I went to college I absolutely adored Christmas. (Something about learning to shed my assumptions and embrace my atheism — parts of which I learned in college.) Christmas is tied inextricably with the fondest memories of my family. If I really wanted to embrace my heritage, I would be a total Southern charmer around Christmas time, decorating the everloving shit out of this house, and hanging wreaths everywhere, and going nuts on Pinterest, and trimming a tree. I could incorporate new traditions by baking cookies and gingerbread men, something my mother never did.
And yet, I don’t get down with the Jesusy stuff. I can’t. That stuff is not for me. So it falls to be a secular holiday, which then makes it all about consumerism, which I can’t stand either. So everything traditional becomes empty.
It’s been ruined for me. It’s one of the tragedies of my life. Converting to Judaism won’t fix that. Nothing will. I cannot enjoy the holiday. It makes me anxious and gross inside. I am extremely uncomfortable with it.
And yet, this year I am embracing Xmas, as I’ve come to call it. I’m doing a themed tree — rustic white xmas. Mostly white ornaments, jute, and a big burlap bow at the top. I’m hanging wreaths and ribbons, I’m wrapping garland around the stair railing, stringing lights, baking xmas cookies. Why? Trying to be more domestic, now that I’m going to be married for this Xmas. I guess. It comes down to trying to salvage the things I like about the decorating for the holiday, and tying those to some meaning that I’ve made myself.
My future husband is also an atheist, and he is adamant that our kids won’t celebrate Xmas. But while my jury is still out on that, I’m going to celebrate the winter season here in snowy Buffalo, New York, with all the decorations I can find.