For the life of me I can’t get into the Christmas Spirit this year.
Not that every other year I’ve been donning a Santa hat and filling stockings with gifts. I’ve always treated Christmas as Someone Else’s holiday, and did my best to enjoy the sentimental Christmas episodes of all the usual TV series, be it NCIS or The Big Bang Theory.
But somehow, I feel as if Christmas has been more visible in Israel in recent years, and I’m more exposed to it on my own territory, as it were, as opposed to in the general background, such as on TV, FB, or the odd shop in the center of town offering small synthetic Christmas trees and glittery decorations.
Not that I mind; so I feel a stranger to the festivities, so what?
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, as of Nov 2017, Israel’s population includes some 170,000 Christians, making up 2% of the population. The actual number is far higher, because the above figure relates to citizens and therefore does not take into account all the temporary residents, migrants, long-term visitors and so on.
Another considerable segment of the population which celebrates Christmas here is people of Russian extract, be they new or veteran immigrants. Most of them don’t connect to the religious aspect of the holiday but to its seasonal nature; a good reason for a hearty, happy celebration.
Yet another segment is the Anglo population. People from English-speaking countries, for whom Christmas was just part of Life before coming to Israel.
Obviously(?), being born to American-Canadian parents, I was introduced to Christmas from a young age, even though there was no television in Israel at the time. Jingle Bells, White Christmas, and others were part of my childhood home’s soundtrack (as were all Danny Kaye songs…) But for most of my adult life Xmas (as I learned from Uncle Harry to refer to it) was someone else’s holiday (albeit lots of “someone else”s) and didn’t concern me at all.
At the risk of sounding old, bored, and blase, I’ll admit that I’m rather tired of traditional, ritual-laden holidays, be they Passover with its Seder night or Xmas with its trees, bells and whistles. So the fact that Xmas is suddenly more present in my life than ever before is a bit strange. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a bother, because it doesn’t really demand anything of me, except sending Xmas cards or at least sending virtual greetings of Facebook.
When my cousin and her significant other here in town, a mere 20 minute walk away (as you can see on my Fitbit log),
invited us to their Christmas-themed wine-and-cheese evening, I may have rolled my eyes a bit, but I happily collaborated, and a delightful evening was had by all, as you can see in the pic below, in case you haven’t already seen it on FB.
I’ve been awfully remiss at sending greeting cards. My mom was sooo good at it! Even during the fledgling state’s (i.e., Israel) when there were no card shops, and even the measly selection available was out of her financial reach. She used to make them out of typing paper and pictures of roses cut out of American magazines sent to us by Uncle Harry. (Yes, those were ads for whiskey…)
OK, so this year I’m celebrating Xmas this way: