As a kid, I have little recollection of ever feeling left out during the holiday season. Sure, I may have been singled out a little when my classmates made red and green construction paper decorations in class while the one or two other Jews and I made ours out of blue and white.
Otherwise, I thought the Christmas season was great. No school for a couple weeks, our own present-receiving holiday to celebrate and a chance for the whole family to see a movie together on Christmas day. When I moved down to Southern California in my early 20s, friends, feeling sorry for me, would often invite me to celebrate Christmas with their families. I always appreciated the kindness of the gesture, but honestly, the idea of having a day off of work with no responsibilities, where I was free to vegetate by myself in front of the TV all day without guilt or any other expectation of what I should be doing was something I looked forward to all year.
If anything, I suspected us Jews had it pretty good during this time of year. We got all the positive benefits of the holiday season (paid time off/no school) without the negative (spending an entire day atop a rickety ladder hanging up Christmas lights then repeating the same procedure a mere couple weeks later to take them down, buying an overpriced, messy tree that you spend hours decorating and then throw out all in less than a month, dealing with the absolute insanity of overcrowded stores and packed freeways virtually all of December, negotiating the highly sensitive “where to spend Christmas day” issue without offending anybody).
Having married outside my religion, I now get to experience Christmas in a more traditional fashion. At the risk of sounding more Scrooge-like than is probably appropriate this close to December 25th, what was once a suspicion is now a confirmation.
Off to do some last minute shopping. Happy Holidays everyone.