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A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> Jewish

Celebrating Hanukkah in the Middle of Christmas

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , life , Jewish , identity work

(Yes, Parentheticals has been distracted by the holidays. But I’ve been *thinking* about blogging, doesn’t that count? Yeah. I know. I didn’t really think so.)

Anyway, today’s seasonally appropriate topic comes out of various experiences I’ve had over the last month with feeling especially aware of my Jewishness—and therefore, my outsider-ness—in the midst of a Christian-centered culture. It always comes up this time of year, when no matter what your beliefs about or relationship with Christ, the Christmas season is an inescapable cultural force. Most of the time I just go along with the inescapable force, and try to enjoy the ride from a tourist’s perspective (“look at the quaint local customs! Isn’t that pretty/heartwarming/fun? I can relate to that.”) I find my own comfort in the repetition of the seasonal decorations and activities, the familiar smells and sounds and tastes. Most (if not all) of these really have nothing to do with Christ or his birth, and I can enjoy them aesthetically without feeling attached to them, the same way I enjoy, say, a Taiko drum performance or Thai food.

But there are also times during the Christmas season where I am forcibly reminded that I am different, that my family is different—that as fun as all this holiday fuss can be, it is not *our* holiday, and no matter whether we join in the reindeer games or not, we are always on the outside. It’s not that I feel discriminated against, or repressed in any way—far from it, I’m always very grateful and appreciative of the way that in this place, at this time in history, I am generally free to believe what I want, worship how I choose, and observe the holidays I want to without fear of repercussion or repression. There’s something going on though, that’s more subtle, that I want to note and put out there.

Might as well start blogging again with a bang, rather than a dribble. I’ve just had a couple of really interesting, deep experiences that need to be processed for posterity; they’re too important to just let float away down the river of memory.

What happened? Well, twice over the last couple weeks, I stood guard over a dead body.


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