This Sunday marked the end of daylight savings time, the first day of November, the first day after Halloween (a tough one for many of us), and… the first Christmas commercial. Ugh.
There I was, curled up in bed hoping to enjoy a lazy Sunday of Food Network, football and grocery shopping, and lo and behold, the first commercial to interrupt Sandra’s Money Saving Meals was for Crayola’s new products – “the perfect gift this season”. All I was trying to do was relax and learn to make Chicken Scaloppine, not start my Christmas shopping list. I don’t even have a Christmas shopping list!
Being a Jew on Christmas can be quite the challenge – especially when the Christmas season seems to get longer and longer every year. I remember the days when the commercials started on the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas lights didn’t twinkle until New Years was only about 35 days away, and the store decorations were debuted on Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year.
As a sophomore in high school, I had the incredibly cool opportunity to experience decorating for Christmas first-hand, and for a good cause. My BBG chapter volunteered at Nordstrom on Thanksgiving night – late night – to hang all of the glamorous, glitter-coated decorations.
It was the ultimate fundraiser: not only did the store donate our “salaries” to the chapter, but a dozen Jewish girls and their moms got a behind-the-scenes look into the back rooms of Nordstrom and had the chance to experience the time-honored tradition of decorating a Christmas tree.
Who knew that Nordstrom and every other retail establishment in the world (or at least our country) would gradually push up their timeline to the point that the seasonal aisle at Walgreens is crowded with leftover costumes and Christmas wreathes?
The irony is that for a card carrying super Jew (ok, minor exaggeration), I love Christmas. Jelly doughnuts cannot compare to the hundreds of different kinds of decadent Christmas cookies. The Dreidel Song doesn’t stand a chance to the dozens of beautiful Christmas carols that I’ve been singing since choir concerts began in the fifth grade. Hell, I think I know more of the words to those songs than many of my Christian pals. While Hanukkah reminds us of the miracles Jews faced long, long ago, you can’t wear the symbols of the season to an ugly sweater party… or can you? Probably not, but maybe I’ll try it this year.
And of course, being Jewish doesn’t exclude me from falling into the traps of excessive materialism that is synonymous with the holiday season. The parental pitch about “eight days of gifts” never relieved my Christmas morning envy, but it certainly got me and my tribe on board with the extreme gift giving that the end of the calendar year brings.
But whether we’re ready to join the holiday shopping mania or we just want to hide from the season’s festivities until the ball drops to ring in 2010, shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the month of November (or at least the first few weeks of November) without the incessant Christmas jingles from Crayola and every other “perfect gift” distributer?