Monday, December 12, 2005

December Dilemma

Okay, so we've resolved the "dead tree card" portion of our holiday celebrations with a box of "Season's Greetings" bearing a wintry snowscape, plus some Hanukkah cards for our older Jewish relatives.

So now there's a new problem: Return address labels and postage stamps.

I must get at least one set of address labels a week from every charity and cause known to humanity, including Habitat for Humanity. Many of these have a decidedly Christmas theme, which means they're inappropriate for the Hanukkah cards. It would also be rather awkward to put them on the "Season's Greetings" cards, since it would be like saying, "We don't personally believe in this stuff, but we hear you people set great store by it." Likewise, I don't expect our Christian friends to send us Hanukkah cards.

So I picked out the address labels that seemed wintry and festive without being overtly Christmas-y. Of course, since the older Jewish relatives are mostly old school liberal Democrats, the labels from the progressive causes ("Equality! Human Rights!") are still somewhat appropriate.

On Saturday, I went to the post office for an extra book of stamps. They gave me "Holiday Cookies," which is, let's face it, Christmas, the way a holiday tree is, let's face it, a Christmas tree. The stamps have, alternately, pictures of Santa, gingerbread men, snowmen and angels. The Santa and the snowmen, maybe I can get away with. And the one with the beige gingerbread man standing side-by-side with the brown gingerbread man could go with the "Equality!" address labels. But angels, that's getting into religious territory. (Although they also constitute part of a uniquely "American religion" that transcends all denominations and that I'll get into here at a later date.)

Fortunately, I have other stamps left over and can use the Christmas ones on envelopes for people who couldn't care less. Today, I used one to pay our cable bill. In fact, I may use them to pay all of our bills along with the "Habitat for Humanity" address labels, so the landlord, the credit card company and the utility company can think I'm some kind of radical who's making a statement about what a bunch of Scrooges they are.

Personally, I don't challenge anyone to a duel when they wish me a Merry Christmas. It's not like they're saying, "Merry Christmas...and here is the tree from which your ancestors hung our Lord!" In fact, I've lived in New York City most of my life and half the people who wish me a Merry Christmas aren't even Christians.

I love the pagan aspects of Christmas: The bright lights on the darkest days of the year, the holly and the ivy and the momentary scent of pine as I pass the tree vendors at the corner. Perhaps I am a Jewid: Half Jew, half Druid. Although sending greeting cards with pictures of Barbra Streisand dancing sky-clad through a forest holding a rum babka may be pushing it.

Elsewhere, Ann Althouse, who I was never really mad at, posts about a controversy in Madison:

Most ordinary people, I think, don't want any political fighting stirred up over Christmas. Look who's doing the stirring here: "46 state legislators, mostly Republicans, wrote and signed a letter to Gov. Jim Doyle...." Doyle is up for reelection next year -- have you heard?

Warm greetings of the season... the election season.

While her ex, Richard Lawrence Cohen, initiates this thoughtful discussion (thoughtful because I agree with it):

As a Jew, a liberal, a lover of the Constitution, and a loather of Fox News, I wish to declare that the word "Christmas" does not faze, throw, offend, upset, or disconcert me in the slightest.

And AmbivaBlog will have this vision at the top of her blog throughout the season, with commenters sharing their interpretations. So far, Michael Reynolds has the funniest.

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