December 20, 2001
Like a pareve partygoer in a world of milk and meat, I'm traipsing between two distinct December traditions. While I don't belong in Christmas festivities, I don't enjoy the season's organized Jewish events. And so, I'm more confused than Anne Heche on a trip to Fresno.
The Christmas season is good to me -- those swank holiday parties, the Mrs. Beasley gift baskets, not to mention Pottery Barn wine socks filled with free alcohol. Santa knows this Jewish girl has been a little naughty, but mostly nice. At times I am so immersed in Christmas merriment that I forget I don't actually celebrate the holiday.
Christmas is so secularized that it seems most Americans now embrace the December holiday fever. And I'll admit that I, too, find myself carried along by a gust of good tidings and Tiny Tim cheer. At parties, I Ethel Merman "The Twelve Days of Christmas," I swig some eggnog and rock more than a few Jingle Bells. And let me tell you, this Jewish babe can kiss under the mistletoe with the best of them.
But in my heart I know that Christmas is not my holiday. I should have as much contact with mistletoe makeouts, stocking stuffers and yuletide festivities as I do with my ex-boyfriend. And yet, I can't make the clean break.
But can you really blame me? Have you explored the alternative? The motley crew of Christmas counterprogramming -- StuandLoserpaloozaJewzer shindigs -- that our fellow Jews offer up in lieu of yuletide fun?
I checked one out once. Once.
I went, hoping a club full o' Jews was more my scene. And at first, it seemed the Jewbilee had skyrocketing pickup potential. No way would I leave this function without a Kate Spade full of digits.
Yet despite the robust five-guys-to-every-girl ratio, this meeting of the MOTs (Members of the Tribe) was as socially rewarding as a Blockbuster night. The single men who answered this open-casting call hit me with pickup lines like "My mohel was impressed," or my favorite: "I'm Jewish. But if you don't believe me, why don't you confirm it for yourself."
It was like a bad Jewish e-joke that someone kept forwarding to my inbox. But I couldn't delete my way out of this one. As I right-hooked my way through the bar line, the DJ started spinning 2 Live Jews and the entire Adam Sandler Chanukah song trilogy. Don't get me wrong. Sandler is one bachelor whose Judaism I wouldn't mind confirming personally. But the matzah ball mosh pit was just more than I could handle. I was out of there faster than a Barry Bonds homer.
The party names alone should have sent up red flags. The Schmoozapalooza? The Hamish Hop? The Mensch Mart? We'd call the Anti-Defamation League if a non-Jew dreamt up these names. Why does our effort to throw our own holiday parties have to be so self-mocking? Can we keep up with the Joneses without keeping the kitsch? It feels like we're overcompensating for Christmas insecurities with shtick humor and potentially detrimental self-gibing.
Maybe I'm just oversensitive. Maybe I'm just bitter because I left the Simcha soiree as single as I arrived. No, there is definitely more to my discomfort than my always-a-bridesmaid status.
It's the tone of these events that distresses me. These Jewish galas simply try too hard and result in a caricature of our culture. Why does this night need to be different from all other nights? On all other nights, Jews drink at bars like normal people, but on Christmas night, we act like fools.
And so, yet again this year, my December quandary burns brighter than a yuletide log. What's a Jewish girl to do? I am torn between parties where I have fun and parties where I belong. Perhaps I feel more comfortable at Christmas parties because the revelers aren't trying to prove that they can have a good time; they simply have a good time. They aren't looking to publicize their holiday; they're looking to celebrate it.
So this Christmas, I won't be returning to the Mitzvah Mixer. No booty shaking to "Jew Rule" for me. Instead, I'll be living it up like a special episode of "7th Heaven." I'll be kicking it with a little drummer boy and lap dancing for Santa. But when the jolly man asks, I'll tell him that I all really want for Christmas is a Schmoozapalooza with a bit less schmaltz.
Carin Davis, a freelance writer, is waiting for her mensch under the mistletoe.