Monday, November 16, 2009

'Tis the Season to be Unconscious

Back in October, the American Family Association* starting polling members about Christmas blah blah. Would members be willing to boycotting at least one national retailer for failing to use the word "Christmas" in holiday advertising? Guess they were, because at the beginning of November the AFA called for a two-month boycott of Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stores.

I believe in First Amendment rights, which I liberally interpret to include every American's right to sound/read unaware, insensitive, or downright stupid. Normally, I choose to ignore these kinds of campaigns. I'm having more difficulty doing so this year, probably because I'm more focused than usual on what passes (or doesn't) as interfaith dialogue.

Ever the glutton for aggravation, I've spent time trolling the blogosphere for posts and comments about the AFA campaign. First, the good news: a fair number of observers manage to zoom in on the offensiveness of turning an important Christian holy day into a celebration of retail transactions. I'm with them on that, but my non-rhinoplastied nose is still out of joint.

These commentaries still fail to zero in on what, as far as I am concerned, a more radical issue: not everyone in the world magically becomes Christian during December. Assuming that everyone does (or should) is beyond insensitive. It's insulting to Jews and Muslims.

Old habits of being die hard -- or not at all. I was baptized (as an adult) years ago, but having been raised Jewish, I nevertheless derive some seasonal cheer from knowing Christianity didn't even exist when Jesus was born. Heck, December 24th didn't even exist.

I confess: pondering this generates the same frisson of glee I feel whenever I have an opportunity to explain that Jesus wasn't Catholic and Christ was not his last name.

*The AFA "represents and stands for traditional family values and exists to motivate and equip citizens to reform our culture to reflect Biblical truth on which it was founded."


  1. Merry Hanukwanzamas! God give me strength! I agree with you, Meredith. "Happy holidays!" is quite sufficient if you do not personally know someone well enough to know what s/he is celebrating. We've enjoyed your writings over at this past week. I'm so happy that Hanukkah & Christmas don't overlap on the calendar this year! I hope all the hanukkiyot (9-candle Hanukkah menorahs) are put away after the 8th day of Hanukkah & are not left up for "decoration" until New Year's Day. Unfortunately many people do not realize how they are are diminishing the meaning of the symbol when they display it all over the place during the entire Christmas season (instead of in the window of one's home for exactly 8 nights). Christmas is so commercialized in our culture. It's saddening that most Jews want to allow Hanukkah to become just as commercialized. I'll probably be writing more on this over at Jewcy during December.- Brooke

  2. Brooke: Bet you a pile of Hanukkah gelt that some Jews don't even know the difference between a menorah and a hanukkia!

  3. "It's insulting to Jews and Muslims"

    And a host of others as well!

    I don't usually shop at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy or darken the maw of any shopping mall, but perhaps I will make a point of shopping at this places when I get desperate enough. (I am a shopophobic!)

    Thanks for bringing this infuriating boycott to our attention.


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