The Chanukah Dilemma

By Kate Gordon, Vice-President, Plateaupians for Peace

‘Tis the season of the holiday card. Will you offend your non-Christian friends by sending a Christmas card? Is it too politically correct to send a generic holiday card? Or should you just stick with the always safe New Years’ card? I recently had a conversation with a fellow P4P friend about holiday cards that really caused me to pause and think about this simple piece of mail and hot it affects my identity to my own religion- Judaism.

She was wondering about the etiquette around sending Jewish friends a Christmas card. She had been told by someone that it might be inappropriate to do so. But why is this? Is it considered a faux pas or inconsiderate? In this wonderful world of religious and cultural diversity, political correctness seems to be the new wave of including all while simultaneously offending none. Political correctness has been blamed for diminishing the Christmas spirit, aka the “War on Christmas”. But by the plethora of lights, Starbucks red cups, trees, Christmas songs being played in stores and displays in all major stores from October to January, I personally don’t think the war on Christmas truly exists. But maybe that’s a great subject for another blog.

And this constant display of Christmas is really what I as a Jew, struggle with. It is not Christmas I have a problem with. I think it is a lovely holiday that the majority of those I know and love celebrate. I love the smell of a pine tree in a warm house, hot apple cider and candy canes. I don’t understand egg nog though. That just sounds gross. Iunderstand the significance of the religious aspect of Christmas as well as the secular celebration. As a Jew, these are not offensive.

What I do struggle with is the onslaught of the holiday on my senses that begins right around Halloween and continues through January. I walk into a store and see decorations. I hear Christmas songs on the sound system. The holiday parties that are held at my children’s school are full of what I consider “Christmas” activities. For those that celebrate Christmas, people say, “but a tree, snowmen, snowflakes in windows, they have nothing to do with CHRISTmas”. That may be the case for them. But if one takes a step back, they are allrelated to the holiday. At no other time of the year do these exist except during the Christmas holiday. But…

This is a major holiday for the majority of our country. And who am I to say that it must be reined in because of how it makes ME feel. Because my friends feel the same dilemma when wondering if they would offend me by sending me a card. Which brings us back to the dreaded “holiday card”. After pondering on why it would be inappropriate to send one to your Jewish friends, I come to one conclusion.

Bring ‘em on!

Why? It comes down to sharing one’s life with their friends and family. It’s about bringing joy and light into the time of the year where we have the least amount of light, especially in the Pacific Northwest. And for me, that is what the holidays are really about. Family and friends coming together to provide light and love in a time of darkness.