Chanukah: December 20-27

Chanukah falls rather late this year, straddling Christmas, which is kind of nice. That means that Dan and I can celebrate both at once, since we always celebrate Christmas with my family, even though we’re not so much with the Jesus and so forth.

The subdivision we live in put up all its Christmas decorations yesterday. There are towering fake pine trees all wrapped up in bows and garland with giant, colorful ornaments.

Speaking of ornaments, though, I’m going to get a little ornery, as Christmas decorations lead me to be preemptively defensive once again: Christmas trees are not secular symbols, so no, Dan and I will not be putting one up. We also will not be wrapping our house in blinky lights, making that one more thing we don’t have in common with our neighbors, I’m sure.

If you continue to be interested in this, let me go on: I don’t dispute that for most Americans these days, Christmas has very little to do with the birth of Jesus. However, that doesn’t change the fact that if it weren’t for that whole “birth of the Savior” thing, you wouldn’t be celebrating anything at all. The Christmas tree is fruit of the poisoned, er … tree, as the judge says on Law & Order when throwing the prosecutor’s best evidence out.

Let me put it a different way: what’s the difference between a Christmas tree and an American flag? (I’m borrowing this one from a rabbi.) Jews embrace truly secular symbols all the time. You’ll find Thanksgiving decorations in Jewish day care centers, and American flags, and so forth. But you’re never going to find a Christmas tree in a synagogue.

And you don’t even want to get me started on how it is — with the supposed separation of church and state — that it’s alright to put Christmas wreaths on city buses and stuff like that.

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