The kiddushof Christmas

November 24, 2016 23:21

Oh, to have been inspired to write I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day. Every time I hear that song, I can't help but think of the ker-ching of Noddy Holder's bank balance. Not that I begrudge the Slade front-man one ha'penny of his royalties since I absolutely love this slice of brassy Yuletide pop.

I feel the same way about all those selection boxes lining supermarket shelves and the baubles and tinsel festooning twinkly shop windows. I even rather like the fact that, in my home town of Manchester, the centre is heaving with festive stalls selling hog roast. You see my name is Angela, and I'm a nice Jewish girl who loves… LOVES… Christmas.

Now hold on there, Rabbi. I'm not saying that we have a tree in our lounge. Anyway, you know how we Jews can't do minimalist… where on earth would we put it? And the pine needles must be murder on the Dyson. But I love being a bystander, drinking in the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas without a twinge of discomfort about the fact I was born under a different star.

From carol singers chirruping under street lamps, to the "ho ho homes" that dazzle with illuminated deer clinging to stone cladding. I just can't get enough.

Then there's the food. In my book, you simply can't beat a crisply roasted turkey with all the trimmings. Thank goodness my local kosher restaurant fields a "festive menu" every year. Though, sadly, the patron has yet to dish up an alternative to "angels on horseback" (that's a sausage draped in, oy, a piece of bacon, and often used to accessorise the big bird).

As Jews, we might not celebrate Christmas as such but, as citizens of this country, the Christmas spirit is something we can enjoy from the touchline. Unapologetically. I know some Jewish people get a little shirty on this subject. They avert their gaze at the mention of the C word and mumble something about it not being what we do. But to act this way is deeply troubling and potentially corrosive.

Surely it's the ultimate Kiddush Hashem - technically defined as behaviour which sanctifies God's name and which puts Jews in a good light - to show our non-Jewish compatriots that we acknowledge and rejoice in their celebration, even if we don't take part ourselves.

What's more, to be a British Jew who overtly enjoys Christmas as a spectator sport demonstrates how we respect this country's national identity. That we don't clamour to see British tradition diluted by those PC-blinkered libertarians who roar that Christmas should be non-denominational and that Eid or Diwali deserve equal billing.

I'm all for multi-culturalism as a mechanism through which diverse communities can learn how to understand and respect each other. But, this is not a Jewish state. And just as we don't expect shops to close on Saturday, nor should we show any attempt to foist our cultural imperatives on the wider community. There is no parity between a latke and mince pie.

And look at the net benefit. Rather than turn away, isn't it better to see Christmas as a quasi-Jewish holiday without the onerous bits. A time for family get togethers and slap up dinners without having to spend hours in shul. I mean, face it. After the big Rosh Hashanah feed, even if you're not observant, it doesn't feel right to fall comatose on the sofa in front of the Bond film.

So ring those bells, and spin some Slade. Don't just tolerate, celebrate. Merry Chanucah!

November 24, 2016 23:21

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