I am so angry, angry
, not only my voice but even my fingers become choked when I think about it, try to explain myself.
The whole Christmas Spirit thing doesn't seem to be as much of a big deal here in the UK as it is over the pond. It's about family and presents, and being nice to people rarely comes into it. Perhaps for that reason, but maybe for many more and different ones, the season brings out the worst in my in-laws. Every year (except for the rare ones when I manage to put my foot down and flee the country over the holidays) from about this time on I am by turns ignored, insulted, sidelined, taken for granted and patronised.
Oh, I celebrate Christmas. I have to. For one thing we'd never hear the end of it if I decided to boycott it, and for another, my husband's birthday is very close to Christmas and if we didn't go over to his family's home on Chrismas Day, he would never receive a single birthday present or even card from them; a situation that I would by no means wish to contribute to. Not to mention that he himself would probably be a bit hurt if I just opted out of something that has always been an important part of his life.
I had originally planned to fill this writeup with a catalogue of my mother- and sister-in-law's selfishness and lack of consideration, but frankly that's just tasteless bitching and washing dirty family laundry in public. Just take my word for it that I always end up feeling hard done by after Christmas. I'll have to be brave and plunge right to the bottom of what I find so utterly infuriating about their attitude:
They think I'm Jewish on purpose.
I'm serious. As far as my mother-in-law is concerned, I'm just doing this whole no-Christmas thing to spite her. To be awkward. Because I'm a bad person. It's a truth universally acknowledged, after all, that all decent people have a natural urge to get around a table once a year, overeat and have a family row. The way she sees it is not so much a concession on my part to even participate in this consumerist paganism, but a show of bad breeding to decline going to Midnight Mass with her.
There is no parallel tradition in my family, and even if there was I'm not sure I would necessarily submit my husband to it. He is lucky enough to be at perfect liberty to sneer at and ignore our family traditions and religious holidays, because he is allowed to get away with it; also frankly because whenever he does participate, my whole tribe makes him feel like he's doing them a favour. So there is no hope of forcing reciprocity on this issue. Needless to say, on years when Christmas coincides with Hannukah the menorah is never invited to make an appearance.
And the worst of it is that even people outside our circle see my anger as unjustified, contrary, foreign. After all, who could object to celebrating Christmas? When I once noded related sentiments on this site, I got nuked faster than you could say "cultural imperialism"1. So it's not just my husband's family, although of course they're the ones I have to deal with on an intimate basis. Even if not celebrating Christmas constitutes no political statement, no rebel action, in fact nothing more deliberate than automatically celebrating it, it will always be considered provocative, stand-offish, arrogantly anti-establishment. Maybe if I was married to a Jew and living in the UK I could deal with that, but as it is you can expect to find me spluttering in pathetic helpless rage from now until January.
1 The editorial attitude softened after my WU was removed and now you'll notice the node is amply supplied with views on both sides of the issue.