So, here's the background. I was not raised as a religious child. My dad is an atheist, though he doesn't foist it on anyone. My mom was raised Catholic, and still believes, but is too lazy to follow up and do any of the traditionally Catholic things (like church). At the perhaps ironic age of 13, I attended my first church function. As a teacher. No, seriously. Well, not exactly. I was supposed to be the good Christian leader responsible for indoctrina - watching - the 2-5 year olds. I'm not sure they realized they were entrusting their young children to a heathen, but I did read the right books and say the right things when required. I worked there for about 5 years and knew many young children.
I really didn't realize until now, however, how big a role Christmas (and to some extent, Easter) plays in my life. Of my 10 closest friends, six are Jewish, and of those, three are extremely Jewish (to the point where they keep kosher and/or shabbos). Of the remaining four, two are anti-religious, one is completely apathetic, and one I really don't know because she and I don't particularly talk about things like that. But in any case, it would not occur to any of my close friends from school to wish me a Merry Christmas while everyone from Batavia has done so quite regularly.
For the first time, however (due to my recent lack of personal attachments :) ), I not only have close friends from school, but I'm speaking to them extensively before and during the holiday season. I can't believe how alienating Christmas must be. It's everywhere. And it's everywhere for like 6 weeks. You can't walk into a store without seeing Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas cards, Christmas presents, ornaments, etc. Perhaps if I looked, I would see menorahs and such, but ... certainly not displayed. What must it be like to be five years old in such an environment?
I can't hardly blame my friends for speaking out with some resentment (especially my best friend, who I doubt has ever had more than three mean thoughts in total) against the "Christians" ...
It's literally everywhere.
I've never been a big Christmas person. I mean, I like presents as much as the next guy, but the whole thing has always seemed kind of drawn out, silly, commercialized, whatever. I just didn't realize. I wasn't big into it, but I wasn't particularly against it either - it was familiar. Maybe it's different in New York or somewhere with more diversity than little Batavia, but ... whoa. I haven't heard of any giant tributes to major Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. holidays. Giant 25' lamb for Eid-Al-Adha, anyone?
I wonder what it's like in other countries. When I was in Cozumel last year over Christmas, it was pretty subdued. There were some santa hats from the cruise-ships, but most businesses were open (potentially due entirely to the tourism trade - si es un Americano en Mexico, no tiene una casa y necessita celebrar Navidad) and operating normally.
In any case, the overwhelming influence of this commercial holiday kinda shocked me this season. I'm not religious, nor do I particularly want to be, but I wish I could understand what causes such separation and subjugation in human interaction illustrated rather ironically by this winter celebration.
I've got to stop typing though, I've got presents to wrap...