Three Ways to Prepare for Christmas…If You’re Jewish

I am a religious Jewish person, writing for a Jewish website. Why, then, am I writing about how to prepare for Christmas? Let’s face it: We live in a predominately Christian country, in which the majority of people, including those who are not religious, celebrate Christmas in some way. From Thanksgiving (or earlier) each year, we are surrounded by it.

Case in point, I work for a very small company. Everyone here is well aware that I am Jewish. I leave work early on Fridays, I don’t work on major Jewish holidays, and accommodations are made for me at company meals in order to allow me to comply with my practice of kashrut (the Jewish dietary laws).

Still, last December, a co-worker said to me at the copy machine, “You look very Christmassy today!”

I glanced down at my red and black geometrically patterned sweater vest, my white blouse and black slacks, and replied, “No, I don’t.”

He repeated enthusiastically, “Yes, you do!” Apparently, even just the sight of red or green means Christmas to some people. At this point, I didn’t know what to say. I looked at him, waited, and in a few seconds he said, “Oh, sorry.”

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this kind of thing in December, any time you venture out from the Jewish community. My practice of wearing a Star of David from Chanukkah through Christmas doesn’t seem to help much. However, there are some things we can do to prepare, to make the Christmas season a little less uncomfortable.

First, if you’re a Coca Cola addict like me, now is the time to stock up. I recommend you buy enough to get you through at least mid-January, maybe more. Do it now, because before you know it, all the cans of Coke will have pictures of Santa on them.

They really are unavoidable; last year the Santa cans were even in the vending machine at the local Jewish Community Center. I have nothing against Santa, but he is a Christian holiday symbol, and I don’t want to display him every time I have a drink. I could cover him with my hand, or use a glass, but with advance planning, I know I can avoid him altogether by stocking up now.

Speaking of Santa, now is the time to make a list, and check it twice. If there is anything you will need to buy at the mall or any other popular shopping venue between now and the end of the year, do it now. Right now. Or, at the latest, this weekend, the last weekend before Thanksgiving.

Include on your list anything you need to buy for friends or family who celebrate Christmas, and anything you need for yourself and your family (coats, blankets, haircuts) for the next six weeks. If you plan ahead, you can completely avoid the long lines and crowded parking lots that are an inevitable part of the December shopping experience. You may miss out on some sales, but if you’re like me and want to avoid the hassle of the season, it’s well worth it.

Of course, with Christmas decorations on downtown light posts, Christmas trees in restaurants and office buildings, as well as Christmas songs on the radio, there is no way to avoid the holiday altogether. So when it all starts to get a little overwhelming, and you want to inject a little extra Jewishness into your life, where can you go? Jewish Rock Radio provides a perfect refuge of exclusively Jewish songs when it seems nothing else will get the dreaded “Jingle Bells” out of your head.

I’m sure there must be more things we can all do to get ready.

What strategies do you employ to help you keep Christmas at bay?