Sunday, December 27, 2009

Confessions of a Christmas hater

When Bill O'Reilly first started foaming at the mouth a few years ago about the so-called "war on Christmas," my first thought was, "Sweet! Where can I enlist?" I envisioned Jon Stewart and me wearing t-shirts that said "Soldier in the War on Christmas." One of the nice things about my Jewish phase is that I had a ready-made excuse not to go too crazy with the whole Christmas thing.

Christmas has almost always been tied up with disappointment for me. Not because I didn't get the toys I wanted as a kid, but because I could sense that my relatives, other than parents and siblings, were disappointed in me. And I think they still are, even though I served my country in the military for 8 years and will probably be the first person in my family to finish a graduate degree. They'll probably remain disappointed in me for as long as they live, even if I become a professor at a prestigious school or help with some research breakthrough in industry. Why? Because they have this very clear idea of what a woman should be and do, and I don't fit it. If you're wondering who would, Victoria Osteen would probably be a decent reference point (I was going to say Sarah Palin, but she's clearly more accomplished than her husband, and some of my relatives might consider that to be upstaging).

As a kid, it was clear that my behavior wasn't feminine enough for them. I was told I'd never catch a man the way I was, which, truth be told, was just fine with me. The idea of marriage or even long-term commitment seemed to be a kind of slavery (my stance on this has mellowed with age, at least in theory). But to them, my not catching a man was a terrible outcome. In fact, until I got married, some relatives asked my sister if I was a lesbian (I don't know if this idea has resurfaced since my divorce).

Fortunately, as an adult, I don't exactly lose sleep over this disfavor. In fact, I see who does have their favor, and I certainly don't wish to trade places with any of those people! But spending every holiday season in my formative years being confronted with my own perceived inadequacies is enough to make me annually consider booking a vacation over the holidays in a country that doesn't celebrate Christmas. If said country has a relatively clean beach, so much the better. ;-)

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