Xmas – not in our house!!

I shouldn’t really admit this in public but I am a GLEEK. I love the show Glee. I watch it every week. I don’t watch it on TV as it’s on at 8pm which is my time to spend with the boys, but I catch it online the next day.

It’s not an amazing show by any stretch of the imagination, but I find it entertaining and it is one of the handful of shows that I actually take the time to watch. KoD would never watch it with me and I am totally ok with that. I don’t need to watch the shows on the military channel – we can have separate interests.

This week’s Glee episode was their holiday one. Lots of red and green and singing Xmas tunes. KoD walked into our room as I was watching and objected to me watching this particular episode – being that it was all about Xmas and trees and candy canes and Santa. He thought that it was wrong to watch such a show when we are living such a Jewish life.

I told him that it was purely entertainment – that there was nothing nefarious about watching such a show. It’s not like I am going to want to celebrate Xmas after watching Glee for 42 minutes. Puhleese. It’s not even as if this show, as many others, puts the X in Xmas – where’s the religion? It’s all about gifts and trees and a jolly man in a red suit. Jesus wasn’t mentioned ONCE.

So, other than giving me blog fodder, (thanks dude), does the KoD have a point? Do you banish any mention of Xmas from the house? Do you watch all the Xmas specials that are on TV around this time? Do you try to strike the right balance? What is the right balance?

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  1. Rubyv says:

    Nope. I watch a lot of the specials, see decorated homes,etc. After all, my faith is strong. As a religion major I like seeing what others do.

    Enjoy the tv silliness.

  2. Amy says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching an x-mas special or two on tv, and in the past I have taken my kids to see the windows at macys, etc. But you’re right, a balance is important. And in defense of the Glee episode, not only did it give kudos to Israel (with the mention that the adaptive equipment Artie received was developed by someone there), but the message at the end was really nice as well. *** sorry if I overanalyzed – i’m also a total Gleek!

  3. To me, there is a great deal of difference between religious and secular celebration and watching a TV show depicting others celebrating a holiday.

    I’m a little baffled as to how anything that helps us better understand other cultures and traditions can be a bad thing. Would you not want to share your religious traditions with a non-Jewish friend, so that they could understand and appreciate your values better?

    I think it can be confusing to very small children. But your challenge, there, is to share with them why YOUR faith is special. Not to put others’ beliefs down, but to do what every parent must – share your own in an encouraging manner and hope that your children follow your guidance.

  4. sheva says:

    I. don’t have a Tv but I also have watched this show. I’ll probably see the holiday episode, I guess I doesnt effect beingnraised not Frum, but my children who are pretty sheltered so I don’t know. The truth is my children have never seen Tv because there are so many other horrible influences that make a x-mas show look great,just my opinion. The only reason I’ve actually seen this show is because of the character Becky with Down syndrome. I was so excited to hear about a character on a show with DS who is just another student not the ” Ds token character” I love it and that is what keeps me watching. I’m always trying to get a glance of Becky I guess that make me a Gleek.

  5. Samantha says:

    This is something that my husband and I have discussed on multiple occasions. He does not want Xmas in our house. However, this time of year I like listening to some Xmas music. I play it in the car when he’s still at work. I think it’s fine to watch a secular celebration on a TV show or in a movie.

  6. lady lock and load says:

    So why do Jews say X-mas, why don’t we say the real word Christmas? If I say or write the word, does it mean I’m gonna convert and wear a cross on my chest?

    • LLL, the last laugh would be on any Jews who think that. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xmas and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chi_Rho – the X doesn’t represent a cross at all, but is the Greek letter for Chi, the first letter of Christ. Its usage in a Christian context dates back well over 1000 years.

      • Of course, there are plenty of Christians who have no clue and think “Xmas” is somehow “disrespectful” or is “an attempt to take Jesus Christ out of Christmas.” And there are a lot of folks out there who will get totally spun up over silly stuff and completely miss the important issues in life.

        • Elle says:

          yes you are so right! I grew up Christian and so many people taught that “Xmas” was a secular thing designed to “x” Christ out of christmas LOL they ddin’t even know it WAS a Christian word. so in honor of that ignorance – in the 90′s there was an uprising of using the word “tmas” as in a cross… t…. I can’t do it on this keyboard for some reason… but you get the idea.

          anyhow I sometimes watch Christmas specials if they are secular – and I really enjoy the lights (we still put up snowflake lights in honor of winter b/c I always put u[ winter decor). But i do stay away from religious christmas as much as possible only b/c i grew up in that and ti’s too familiar to me. I honestly miss Christmas a lot and i think I always will so I try to stay away form things that make me too sentimental about it. On the other hand I don’t make Christmas look bad to my kids either b/c all of our extended family still celebrates it. so it’s a delicate balance.
          FYI so many songs that are used as “christmas songs’ are really just winter songs like “walking in a winter wonderland” and so forth. I love those songs!

  7. batya from NJ says:

    I don’t think it’s horrible to watch an Xmas show just as I wouldn’t think it is a bad thing for a non-Jew to watch a Chanukah show or the Maccabeats singing Candlelight or whatever. The important challenge is (as I think was mentioned above) is to teach our kids pride in their own heritage & to maintain a balance. I think it’s just one of the realities of living in Chutz La’aretz (outside of Israel) that Xmas is all around us & we just have to deal with it & be thankful that we are able to practice freedom of religion in this country.

  8. If Christians or Muslims forbade watching anything about Chanukah, Passover etc. in their homes, they would be accused of being Anti-Semites.

    I think there’s a big difference between enjoying entertainment about another faith’s holidays and actually celebrating those holidays. (And I’m not Christian, so I totally get the Xmas overload thing).

    • lady lock and load says:

      Well Christians and Muslims say Chanuka, Passover, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. No X-anuka, Xassover, X-Hashana, or X-Kippur. So why do many Jews say X-mas and refrain from saying Christ. Why would someone who watches holiday shows refrain from saying (or typing) the word Christmas?

      • HSaboMilner says:

        you raise an interesting point! Growing up it was a sin of the first order to say “Christ”. My grandmother even called Jesus “Yoshkee Pandree” which must have its origin somewhere in Yiddish. From what I understand the word “Christ” means “the annointed one” and using that terminology might imply acceptance of him as the Messiah or some such figure. Therefore the X in Xmas etc….

    • Livia, I’m not Jewish, but I totally get the “Xmas overload thing”! It’s really an overload of commercialism and an erosion of the spiritual underpinnings. I read an article a few years ago about how Thanksgiving had sort of lucked out and escaped all that (possibly because it’s not a big gift-giving, card-sending occasion that’s going to tide all the merchants over for the next six months). I really like Thanksgiving and all it stands for.

  9. shorty says:

    I kind of see KoD’s point.

    As an aside, I didn’t like this episode. There are at least 3 jewish characters on the show, and the mention of it in this episode by Rachel was awkward. Puck constantly talks up his Jewishness and in this episode nothing? I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t have a dreidel song or two to sing about it. They could have had a menorah even or something.

  10. Shelly says:

    Aw, come on- it’s no big deal! I’ve watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special in almost each of my 40 years. Face it, Christmas is a beautiful holiday- the lights, the decorations, the trees- and the songs are lovely. When I was a child, I had an Orthodox rabbi at school who admitted to owning an album of Christmas carols.

  11. Vicki says:

    I unabashedly watch A Christmas Story at least twice ever year, not to mention Home Alone 2, which is a tradition in our Jewish household. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching Christmas movies, etc as long as you’re not confusing kids or other small family members (dogs?) and I think the idea of a non-spiritual Christmas tradition (the tree, the shopping, the colors, etc, none of which have to do with Jesus directly) has become as much a secular part of American culture as any.

  12. wendy greenspan says:

    i have a huge problem with banning xmas from my vocabulary- i have no problem with myself or my children watching anything about xmas – or a muslim holiday – or a buddhist holiday – just as i would not want a christian friend of theirs to shun anything about our wonderful holidays. knowledge- comfort with things different – that is the goal on all sides.

  13. I think all the points I was going to make have already been made. I don’t see any problem in watching Christmas movies or listening to Christmas music – some of it, particularly where it leaves Christ out of the picture, is so secular that it can hardly be classified as Christian any more than dressing as a princess in October & going door-to-door for candy can be classified as Pagan. And I also find saying “Xmas” to be a bit offensive, refusing to acknowledge how holy the holiday is to Christians. And I agree that if Muslims or Christians refused to see or say or acknowledge anything having to do with Jewish holidays, they’d be seen as anti-Semitic; what gives us a special pass to disrespect their holidays?

  14. Xavier Xenophobe says:

    I think that X-rating Christmas is ridiculous! What religion are your non-Jewish next-door neighbors, or the people down the road? Xtian? Rather offensive I would imagine!

    Calling it Christmas merely shows respect for the Christians’ right to have their own beliefs and name their own festivals, without any hint of endorsement of said beliefs. Those who call it Xmas suggest that they may feel somewhat threatened by the Christians and/or their beliefs, and would prefer to pretend they did not exist, or that they are concerned that others around them may think they are too receptive of non-Jewish culture (God forbid! – or should that be Gxd forbid? G– forbid? — forbid?).

    Many of us were brought up to ridicule non-Jewish culture. This is a mistake made by people who are rather insecure in their Jewish identity. Even as a teenager I realized that ridiculing something by giving it a nickname is a popular way of belittling it so that it does not have to be dealt with seriously. It is the resort of the ignorant, who do not have the knowledge or the confidence to stand up against it.

    Proud and confident Jews who are secure in their beliefs have nothing to fear, and this is what we should show our kids. Show them anything else and they’ll see right through it.

  15. sheldan says:

    I used to be bothered by the “December Dilemma,” but now I more or less tune out the Christmas season, and when January 2 comes I come to…

    I think that our (over)reactions to the Christmas season has created a backlash among Christians–namely, the objection to saying “Happy Holidays” in order not to offend anybody. Then they get in your face with “Jesus is the reason for the season” and insist on everybody using “Merry Christmas,” whether it’s comfortable or not. (I have trouble wishing others “Merry Christmas”; I prefer “Happy Holidays,” and I think most people really don’t object.)

    I think using “Xmas” is somewhat counterproductive. The name of the holiday IS Christmas, and you’re not going to change it. As LLL stated, writing “Christmas” doesn’t mean that we are conceding anything regarding our Judaism, and in fact it shows respect for our neighbors–and this respect goes both ways, when they want to know about aspects of Judaism and we are able to answer them. It sounds too extreme to avoid the use of the words “Christmas” and “Christ” just to make a point.

    I would also take issue with an irresistible need to somehow give Chanukah equal billing. Christmas is a major holiday in the Christian calendar; Chanukah is a minor holiday (by comparison to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Yomim Tovim). Christmas IS NOT OUR HOLIDAY and that should be enough for us. Yes, the commercialization and the overall atmosphere at this time of year is problematic, but I don’t think we have to compete head-to-head with it. And complaining about it after a certain point seems to bring into question one’s own confidence in their beliefs–we know that we all are confident of our identity, so why should this time of year change that?

    Finally, I will admit that I am a former Gleek. I finally got tired of watching Sue and her garbage! :-)

  16. jean says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments here. Is there anyone who *doesn’t* watch It’s a Wonderful Life? :) There’s another thing about Christmas movies — most of them, even if secular, have positive messages of family, friendship, peace, etc, and the holiday is more of a vehicle to send the message.

    As for “Xmas” I honestly always thought it was pure laziness/convenience… oops. Who’d have thought I’d learn on a frum blog about the appropriateness of writing the whole word! *grin*

    • Z! says:

      Although I have seen many holiday movies, It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t one I have seen in it’s entirety. Nor have I watched Miracle on 34th St…
      My fave non-Jewish holiday movie has to be Garfield’s Christmas and Garfield’s Holloween. I also enjoyed Rudolph the red nosed reindeer as a child. None of these films focused on the religious aspects of the holiday instead focusing on family and the importance of acceptance.

  17. I make my kids watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”– but then I’m evil.

  18. jean says:

    I was just having a “Happy Holidays” convo with a friend. If someone who knows me, and knows I do not celebrate Christmas and is mindful of that and says Happy Holidays (or Chanuka) instead, well, I appreciate that. But honestly, for the random person who says “Merry Christmas” — so what? It’s the thought and kind intent behind it that counts. I wish my friends and colleagues Happy Diwali or Eid Mubarak and they appreciate my respect for their traditions.

    The music can get to be too much b/c of overload but don’t mind that either, as others have said — *except* when it’s overtly religious and in a public space and on a never ending loop. Listening to Xtreme Gospel (not the fun kind either) in Macys for 2 hours nearly killed my brain cells one year.

    When I lived in Israel and the Voice of Peace radio (yeah, that long ago) played Christmas songs, I enjoyed listening to them, missing the atmosphere of lights and warmth I grew up with. When I moved back to the US I felt no longer connected and it irritated me (probably being homesick for Israel) but I’ve re-adapted to a multi-religious environment.

    I really like Carol of the Bells! :)

  19. T says:

    hmm! wonder what the KoD has to say about our situation!!!!!
    if he thought watching that one lousy show was troubling…..well, hashem knows what we can all handle, right!!!

  20. Bells says:

    With respect to the Christmas/Xmas discussion: if one accepts the argument that the word must be written Xmas in order to avoid using the word “Christ”, then how would one function, say, in an academic setting? If one is studying and writing about Jewish history, how can one not use the term “Christian”? Write “Xian” in a dissertation? Or, say, one is writing a piece for a newspaper/magazine/whatever about Christian observance compared to Jewish observance? Or about Christian-Jewish dialogue? To write “X” is to alienate an audience, and it distracts from the substance of a text (I’m not referring to your post!). In any event, it’s a shout out to the Chi Ro, as others have noted above, so to write “Xmas” to avoid mentioning “Christ” is an effort in vain.
    As to banning any reference to Christmas from the home…well, my parents are Christian. Should I not spend time with them on their holiday, when they and the rest of my family gather to celebrate, ultimately, our time with one another? Conversely, should they ignore Chanukkah and Passover? Should they refrain from wishing me happiness on Jewish holidays? Were the books about Judaism they gave me for Christmas when I was a child inappropriate? Should I not give them gifts? Should they not have subsidized my studies in Israel/my BA and MA, which focused on Jewish texts?

    I don’t think this answers your question, but they’re what came to mind when I read your post. =) Gah, I ramble, ramble, ramble! Kol tuv —

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