It’s that time of year again, and while I love Chanukah as much as the next Jew, it’s impossible to get away from the Xmas spirit. Winter sales, goodwill to all, and chestnuts available at every corner shop, what’s not to love?
Well, a few things actually. And maybe you’re all too close to see it, but with all the respect in the world, let me give you a run-down of the things I would change if my household kept Christmas.
1. The menu.
I think it’s fair to say that the whole of Xmas day centres around the big festive meal. For thousands of years people have been gathering around the dinner table and breaking bread together to celebrate this pinnacle in the Christian calendar. But who came up with the ideas for the grub? On what other day in the year would anyone choose Turkey, the arguable worst meat of choice to be the centrepiece of the meal? Beef, Lamb, Duck, even Chicken is preferable to Turkey any other day of the year. Let’s call a spade a spade here, Turkey is dry and hasn’t got much flavour, hence why you’re spending 2 to 3 hours preparing stuffing and sauces to accompany it. To top it off, although no one’s arguing with roast potatoes, does anyone eat Brussel Sprouts at any other meal the entire year? Let alone the weird tradition of Cranberry sauce, a foodstuff that just doesn’t exist whatsoever outside of December 25th.
Lastly, every meal should be complimented by the grand finale of dessert. And dessert will never ever mean fruit cake. I don’t care what you call it, or how much alcohol you add to it (although it probably helps), a Xmas Pudding is not dessert. Give me chocolate cake, give me ice cream, even something citrus-y would round off the meal well. But why are we pretending that Xmas pud is in any way appetising? In my house, it would be Haagen Daaz and sticky toffee pudding, maybe with a pavlova on the side. Extra points for the fact that none of those options takes months of my life to prepare. If I wanted to spend 2-3 months feeding something in small increments daily, I would buy a hamster.
2. The decor.
Love the Christmas lights, in fact I think we should add that to Judaism, a festival where we decorate the outside of our homes with ostentatious flashing lights and various plastic accompaniments. I can just see my home now, with a rendition of the 10 plagues of Egypt on my front lawn, and a replica of Mount Sinai on the roof. Fab.
This brings me to Christmas trees. Excellent idea I would even up the ante. Let’s bring all of the outside in, creating an indoor Xmas garden, complete with flowers and grass (astro-turf if need be) and why not woodland creatures, so cold at this time of year and in need of some Xmas spirit just as much as you.
Yes, I’m joking. But it is kind of weird that you bring a tree into your living rooms. Doesn’t it make a crazy mess of needles and twigs? Doesn’t it brings in bugs and the like? Do you have to buy a special spray for that? So many questions.
3. The list of demands.
This one is actually pretty serious, as I’ve read that the average household will spend £868 on Christmas this year. Nearly a thousand pounds on one day of the year, that just can’t be affordable for 95% of the UK. And meanwhile your kids are sitting at home writing a letter for Santa? A magical being that flies in, drops off their hearts desire and leaves again without so much as a thanks for him or his hard working elves [AKA unpaid midget workforce]. (Seriously, does anyone’s kids write thank you notes to Santa?) Doesn’t the whole thing seem a bit entitled? From the outside looking in at least, it seems like the last way I want my children to consider the presents we work hard to provide for them. Maybe it’s a little Scrooge of me, but I like to think that I would use the opportunity to talk to my kids about wants and needs, earning and spending, and ask them to think of one or two things they really want, which Santa won’t be bringing, but their hard-working parents will be.
4. The Xmas season
This is a tough one, because we all enjoy some of the elongated Xmas perks, such as Starbucks red cups which appear Nov 1st, or Xmas songs on the radio from what feels like mid-summer. But when I try to get an email response at work on December 3rd, and get told that the company are “winding down for Christmas”, it can really make me feel peeved. Similarly, spending the whole of December attending various Xmas lunches and functions with the people I anyway see and speak to every single week can be a little grating. Cmon boss, just give us the afternoon off if you’re trying to make us feel festive. It would probably cost you less.
Any other holiday traditions that you would scrap?
Here’s an idea. Practice good will towards men 365 days a year, purchase things for your loved ones only if you want to and only when they go on sale, eat cookies and eggnog whenever you damned well feel like it. With rum.
Hear Hear! Are you running for any kind of elected office any time soon?
Official Spiked Eggnog Taster 2015. Gotta go, lots of campaigning to do.
The Menu – I make a fancier meal every Shabbos; complete with artisan bread. And awesome desserts. Every week.
The Tree – imagine if this was a Jewish thing. There would halachos about how tall the tree should be, how long you have to keep it in your house for and which rooms you are allowed to keep it in. Side note: My kids were discussing the halloween decorations my neighbours put up this year and my son observed: ‘if Jews kept halloween, Lubavitchers wouldn’t decorate their gardens. (The Lubavitch custom is not to decorate our sukka.)
The Cost – considering how much I spend on just food and wine every Pesach… hey, look at all the money being spent to boost the economy.
The Season – hey, I like seeing little lights and decorations everywhere! Just skip the songs on the radio.
bottom line – if Jews were keeping this holiday, we would manage to make it way more complicated and probably just as expensive.
I’ll stick to Chanukah. Eight nights. one time investment in a menorah. No compulsory fancy meals. You give the kids chocolate coins and a few pounds each, spread over 8 nights and they think they are millionaires 🙂 And doughnuts… yummmm…
I love this reply! Thanks so much. I cant believe you don’t decorate your Sukkah, that makes me sad. But I know, like shirts without monkeys and grinding your own almonds, none of it makes you sad!
Xmas is FAR more expensive than Pesach…. I’m shocked!
Cheers for stopping by xx