Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thoughts on H. RES. 951

For those of you who aren't familiar with this resolution, H. RES. 951, which was created by 19 Republican Representatives, here is the text:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.
As a young, Jewish woman, this resolution is offensive.  It is beyond offensive.  Saying that I find this profoundly insulting and inappropriate is like saying that Bill Gates is moderately well-off.

The following are some of my comments from the Shakesville post regarding this resolution:

What bothers me about all this is NOT that I don't think that people are necessarily missing the point of Christmas (because honestly, I don't really CARE). I often miss the point of my own holidays; I spent all of this past Yom Kippur whining about how hungry I was, for example.

What is upsetting for me is that another religion is being absolutely imposed on my life. Christmas is made into a public, commercial, federal holiday; it is no longer privately practiced. And while some of my Christian friends whine to me that of COURSE it's a federal holiday because if it weren't, most of the country would just skip work or school anyway, I don't think that's valid. If it's SO essential for Christmas to be on a day off, just stop having it every December 25th and have it on the third Sunday of the month or something like that. Or perhaps keep in mind that Jews in the US don't necessarily stay home on the days we have seders for Pesach. I certainly don't miss school or work on every day of Chanukah.

But this, of course, is POINTless to argue because wah wah wah Jews are a minority, and everyone else is a minority, and so we all have to follow the schedule of the IMPORTANT religion. You know, the AMERICAN religion. And everyone has to know Christmas songs, and you're glared at if you try to schedule something on Easter because you didn't realize it was Easter because it changes EVERY YEAR, and you have enough trouble remembering when your OWN changes-every-year holidays are (for example, I can't remember if Chanukah starts tomorrow night or Saturday night).

So, honestly, I couldn't care less how people want to celebrate Christmas, any more than I care about how other people celebrate Chanukah or Pesach or Yom Kippur or Simchat Torah or Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot, or even fucking Shabbat (if they even celebrate at all). But the government should not be endorsing a Christian holiday; they should not be spending tax-payers' money on things for a Christian holiday, and they should not be wasting their time on this resolution when they SHOULD be spending time on legitimately important things.

I'm a non-Christian. And in the US, that pretty much translates to not-a-real-American. And if I could, I would storm into Congress, tear up the resolution (symbolically; I'm sure they have, like, a million copies of the damn thing), and tell them to do some actual good for this country and ALL of its citizens.
It's a very privileged idea to think that Christmas HAS to be a federal holiday because otherwise everyone would call in absent. It's absurd. And I think that if Christmas were no longer a federal holiday, I think people would eventually start to celebrate it differently. I, for one, would work; the only reason I haven't is because the semester is always over by then, and now, we have the day off (but I'd have to come in if there were an experiment that needed to be worked on!). The only reason I go to my uncle's for Christmas dinner is because I have nothing else to do and none of my friends are free. And I have a feeling a lot of atheists, agnostics, or people who just don't DO big-family get-togethers, etc., might work, too.

So, I don't know exactly who reads this blog, whether you're following it through Blogger or Google Reader or some other feed, or if you just read it or discover it some other way.  And I don't know if you're any sort of Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, or anything else under the sun and the moon and the stars, or how much you believe in a god or gods or goddess or goddesses or flying spaghetti monsters or anyfuckingthing.

But the point of this post is not to tell you that your beliefs are wrong or bad or offensive to me.  It's to explain why it's bullshit to think that Christmas or Christianity in general are under attack, and why it bothers me that Christianity and its most favorite holiday are intensely public institutions, which I find invasive and alienating, and highly inappropriate for a country that was essentially founded on freedom of and from religion.

I hope very much to see this resolution shot down in the most humiliating fashion possible for those who might seek to pass it.  I'm tired of being treated like a non-person, whether it's because I'm Jewish, or because I'm a woman, just as many other people are tired of being treated as non-persons because of their faiths, sex, gender, sexuality, body, health, skin color, ancestry, country of origin, class, education, or otherwise.

We're all tired.  Stop insulting us.  We are people, too.


  1. I think it'd be interesting to spend a December in Israel, just to see what it's like not to have to deal with this type of thing.

  2. Ugh, yes, let's please buy plane tickets now.