Tag Archives: Chanukah

“Only” Christmas Here? Bah Humbug, Billboard!

While recently driving through one of those long rural stretches that blur the lines between Midwest and South, I saw a large billboard that said in cheery letters: “Happy Holidays!”

But the billboard featured an angry red cross-out, replacing the inclusive message with the strident proclamation: “ONLY MERRY CHRISTMAS HERE!” Let’s be clear: It wasn’t graffiti; it was part of the design.

onlymc

The image included herein is a recreation. (Thanks, computer-magic.) I couldn’t take a picture of the actual billboard, because it was stationed beside the highway on which I was driving. Since I was driving, obviously, I couldn’t capture the image; normally, I might have stopped, but it was also nighttime, and raining with near-freezing temperatures, with snow and ice also threatened.

In other words, it was exactly the sort of December night where one might appreciate a nice, warm-and-fuzzy holiday wish, rather than a small town’s declaration that only one holiday was welcome there.

The sign bothered me.

The funny thing is, I am not bothered by religious Christmas signs in general. I actually understand the inclination to emphasize “the reason for the season.” Practicing, faith-driven Christians who want to spread the reminder of Christmas as a religious holiday make sense to me. After all, don’t Jewish people emphasize the messages and meanings behind Jewish holidays, too? Don’t rabbis and educators lament when Chanukah becomes “just about the presents”?

What bothers me is the aggressive exclusion of others. I wouldn’t have blinked at a sign that said “Keep Christ in Christmas.” That sign simply isn’t aimed at me. But a sign that slams other holidays does feel aimed at me. One that essentially shouts out down with happy holidays, Christmas is the only celebration allowed in these parts, seems hurtful and mean-spirited to me. (To say nothing of what the menorah in my trunk must have been feeling…)

holidays

What bothers me is the fear conveyed therein, and the notion of a “War on Christmas.” As one rabbi-friend commented when I posted a Facebook status about this billboard: “Isn’t the War on Christmas, like, SO last decade?” Apparently not.

What bothers me is the whole idea that it’s a seasonal zero sum game; the absurd notion that if all holidays are welcome, one in particular is threatened. Doesn’t that go against the love-thy-neighbor spirit associates with this season?

So I added something to my holiday wish list. I’m hoping for a deeper understanding that including everyone does not mean diminishing anyone. Saying “Happy Holidays” is a way of wishing someone whose practices you may not know a joyful time of year regardless of whichever holiday they will or won’t be celebrating. It is not said to replace Christmas, or Chanukah, or Kwanzaa – but to make room for them all.

So whatever holiday(s) you’re celebrating this season, may they be full of peace, and joy, and light, and with that I’ll say – to ALL - a good night.

Does this billboard bother you, too? Share your thoughts!

Posted on December 9, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Happy Thanksgivukkah, Y’all!

There’s a lot we’re thankful for at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life. We are thankful for the work we get to do. We are thankful for the wonderful region in which we get to do it. We are thankful for partners like MyJewishLearning.com that help us connect with even more of you throughout the year. The list goes on and on – and throughout Chanukah, we’ll be adding candles to our menurkey to shine the light on our thanksgiving:

Night-1--Community

Tonight, we light the first candle for COMMUNITY. Like us on Facebook to keep up with our candles all this week, and tonight let us wish you a very HAPPY CHANUKAH, HAPPY THANKSGIVING, and yes, for once-and-only-once tomorrow: HAPPY THANKSGIVUKKAH!

Posted on November 27, 2013

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The 4 Questions of Thanksgiving

As I get ready for my Southern family’s traditional Thanksgiving celebration, which this year will overlap our celebration of Hanukkah… well, there’s been all this talk of “Thanksgivukkah,” but right now it’s the annual menu that’s on my mind.

Thinking about all the foods we eat, and how this night too is “different from all other nights,” I realized this holiday needs its own four questions:

1) On all other nights, we eat only one carbohydrate. Why on this night do we have sweet potato casserole with a gooey marshmallow topping, mashed potatoes, bread, cornbread dressing, stuffing, and rolls (oh, those many, many delicious dinner rolls)?

2) On all other nights we eat raw, steamed or sautéed vegetables. Why on this night do we serve our green beans in a casserole that loses nutritional value with a can of cream soup and crunchy onion rings on top?

tableturkey

3) On all other nights, we don’t dip our chicken, turkey or meat in gravy. Why on this night do we generously smother everything in gravy?

4) On all other nights, we eat sitting upright.  Why on this night do we eat and eat and eat, then eat some pie and recline in front of a football game?

Of course, this year, in addition to the regular old Four Questions of Thanksgiving, we have another one: On all other Thanksgivings, we don’t light a menorah. Why on this night…

Well – that one has a really clear answer, at least.

As for the others, well, the holiday in the United States began as a feast and giving thanks for a good harvest. Today, the holiday has become about families gathering around a table and giving thanks for being together – which isn’t an excuse for the overly-decadent food.

So there may not be a truly satisfying answer to each of the 4 Questions of Thanksgiving, but the overall answer is that we do it to celebrate with our families, enjoying what we have and hopefully also remembering those in need and sharing in the bounty.

And as for all the carbs and calories, well… it’s only once a year, right?

Posted on November 26, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy