Can we stop pretending that Chinese food and a movie on Christmas is some kind of sacred tradition in which we all must participate? Can we not be honest with ourselves that there is no real correlation to Jews and Chinese food on Christmas other than the obvious fact that for a very long time, those were the only establishments open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? So why has this activity become something akin to latkes on Chanukah?
I have recently read article after article extolling the "history" and the "cultural significance" of this kitsch custom and frankly, I am baffled. Yes, it is true that many of us order lo mein on the 25th, (with or without the kosher-offending ingredients) but there is only one true reason for this supposed foray into a "newish tradition".
When I was a kid, my mother would work each and every Christmas. Being a floor nurse at a local hospital, she happily worked both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that those who celebrated the holiday could spend it with their families. She would often trade off New Year's Eve and the deal worked well for all concerned. My dad, not being all that well-versed in the culinary arts, would take my brother and me out for Chinese food and a movie simply because in "blue-lawed" Toronto of the 70's that was the only place one could get a non-homecooked meal. Believe me, if he could have found a deli, a Thai place, (not yet available in my parochial hometown) or some other food type, he would have taken us there too. My dad has never been one for limiting his food choices.
But today that simply isn't the case. There are other non-Christian ethnicities that open their restaurant doors to customers on Christmas. And...braving a movie theatre in 2015 on the one day where the majority of North Americans have an off-day is sheer lunacy. Haven't any of you ever heard of Netflix? Have we Jews become so enraptured with this season that we feel the need to turn Christmas, which is in no way, shape, or form our holiday, into something that matters to us by virtue of some invented tradition?
There really isn't a need to "find something to do"on Christmas. How about family time with board games and books? How about a walk? How about some exercise? Or how about cooking a meal together? A movie? Sure. But don't pretend it is some kind of a tradition.
I do have wonderful memories of those Christmases with my dad and brother. They were special times brought on by the confluence of mom working and a holiday that didn't cater to us. But I refuse to pretend that there is some kind of time-honoured Jewish tradition that requires Chinese food and a movie on the 25th, kitsch as it may be because that would mean that I look at this holiday as one of my own and, honestly that is a wee bit insulting to my Christian friends.
And anyway...there is a major Jewish holiday being celebrated this year on the evening of the 25th. It's called Shabbat. Try that instead.