There are tons of obvious post topics for me today. There's the lonely lament of the token Jewish kid who grew up in suburban Arizona and didn't learn who Mary and Joseph were until the fourth grade. There's the post-capitalist outrage over a holiday that began as a celebration of someone's messiah's birth and morphed into a consumer-driven shopping frenzy. And there's the fond memories of the way my family celebrated Christmas: a late night drive through our neighborhood with the windows rolled down and Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" blaring on my mom's stereo.
Following the trend of my last post, there's also the obvious wonderment at the way most Jews choose to celebrate Jesus's birthday: with Chinese food and a movie. When I was a kid, there weren't too many people at the local theater on Christmas. It was fantastic! The random non-Christians in our town, an assortment of Jews, Hindus and atheists mingled with divorced dads who lost the custody coin toss as we watched movies in relatively empty darkened rooms. Nowadays, the theaters are packed as the afternoon hours approach and the novelty of everyone's new gifts wear off. People flee their families, held captive for the past 18 hours, because of a shared love of ham and some dude from Bethlehem.
Then there's the Chinese food. Used to be these were the only restaurants open, either because of the Chinese owners' keen business sense or Buddhist religious observances. The places are universally packed and in some parts of the U.S., it's hard to find good Chinese. But the world of restaurantuers has diversified since the 1970s. So this year, consider some vindaloo instead of egg foo young.... or some pad thai instead of beef chow mein.
While so many things about Christmas divide us - the whole Jesus is the son of God thing coming at the top of the list - this year, I hope we can all find a sense of unity at the nearest ethnic eatery and local megaplex. Happy Holidays!