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You Too

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Nope. Not that one.





“You too” as in:

Salesperson: Merry Christmas

{pause}

FrumeSarah: You too.

The {pause} is the time necessary for me to consider which response I ought to give. Possible options:

(a) “Thanks”
(b) “Happy New Year”
(c) “I don’t celebrate Christmas, but thanks for the kind wishes”
(d) “Happy Chanukah”
(e) “You too”

Not one of these options feels entirely comfortable. “Thanks” by itself shows gratitude but does not extend any holiday wishes to the other person. “Happy New Year” deftly sidesteps the whole Christmas thing, but what if the person doesn’t observe the secular New Year? “I don’t celebrate…” starts a whole conversation that might be very educational, but is not always worth the effort. Plus, it isn’t worth shaming the person. “Happy Chanukah” makes no sense after the holiday has come and gone. Also, it’s a bit antagonistic. And “You too” can be a problem if the salesperson (or whomever) is not him-or-herself Christmas-observant.

I’m guessing that folks who are not a part of a religious minority don’t have this problem…

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Wednesday, 22 December 2010 7:26 pm

    I say, “Happy holidays,” a lot – at least, that’s my generic go-to.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 23 December 2010 11:59 pm

      For some reason, that one typically slips past me as I frantically replay this conversation in my head each and EVERY time I am wished “Merry Christmas.”

      Silly Rabbi.

  2. Zebulun permalink
    Wednesday, 22 December 2010 9:21 pm

    I sometimes say, “Right back at you!” That way, I can return their Christmas wishes without offense (and without keeping them).

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:01 am

      A solid response. However, I don’t think I could pull it off. Not a phrase that is typically part of Frume Sarah’s vernacular.

      thanks for reading and for leaving your thoughts. Come back soon!

  3. Thursday, 23 December 2010 12:38 am

    Tricky situation; I hate it! I don’t want to make people uncomfortable but it annoys me that everyone seems to assume we all celebrate Christmas. I ususally say “you too”.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:01 am

      See…it is just an easy default response.

      Tough season to be a Jew, I-D.

  4. Thursday, 23 December 2010 4:33 am

    I’m a bit of a Scrooge. I just say ‘uh, huh’ sometimes. I live in a town with lots of Jews, so happily I don’t experience this much anymore.

    One of my worst experiences was when a Jew wished me Merry Christmas. It was a professor, so it wasn’t like he was unintelligent. As he is from the former Soviet Union, a friend said, well, they consider it a secular holiday. But I don’t. I probably said nothing in return.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:05 am

      The reality is that many folks still don’t know that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas. Given its secularization, it appears, to many, to be an American holiday. (Though how they explain that it is observed globally I just don’t know.) The fact that you and I are Jewish does not, therefore, mean that we don’t celebrate it.

      Except, of course, one remembers what REALLY is the reason for this season.

  5. Thursday, 23 December 2010 4:34 am

    I give them a very hearty Merry Christmas in return. As you said Chanukah is long since over and New Years is not yet here. It’s Christmas time!!

    I don’t say it as a insult I say it in the spirit of peace and goodwill.

    A Very Merry Christmas To you and yours this fine season

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:07 am

      It is most definitely Christmas time for those who celebrate Christmas. But it is December for the rest of us. Mine and I had our fine season during September and October. We’re just chilling until April (Passover).

      But to those who do celebrate Christmas, may it be one filled with meaning and light.

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Bob!

  6. Teresa permalink
    Thursday, 23 December 2010 6:27 am

    Merry Christmas is an autopilot phrase for the people who work retail this time of year, and I do hope their holiday goes well, so I say, “You too.” People who know I don’t celebrate and say it anyway are generally fishing for a response and they get “Back atcha.”

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:09 am

      I wonder why there are those who are fishing for a response? I find that a little strange… But good for you for not turning it into a “thing.”

      And thanks for sharing your experiences.

  7. Thursday, 23 December 2010 8:23 am

    Yeah, in the retail world it’s hard to know how to reply because they might actually be required to say Merry Christmas by knuckleheaded bosses above them, though I imagine that is rare.

    I just posted what will prob be my only Christmas post, if you are interested.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:09 am

      A good post it is!

  8. Thursday, 23 December 2010 9:23 am

    Longtime reader, first time responder. (I love your blog!)

    I wrote a response on my blog and this very apropos post… http://blessedlittlebird.blogspot.com/2010/12/whats-jew-to-say.html

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:10 am

      Bracha,
      I love your blog as well and am so moved that my post motivated such a great response over at your place!!!!

      And I’m so happy that you have joined the conversation. Hope you drop in again soon.

  9. Shellie permalink
    Thursday, 23 December 2010 9:55 am

    To quote my boys, “Happy ChristmaChanuKuanzadon”.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 24 December 2010 12:11 am

      But the problem with smushing them altogether is that each one really is its own celebration. And not universally observed. I think we honour individuals when we recognize our differences.

      My two shekels’ worth.

  10. Valerie permalink
    Thursday, 23 December 2010 10:15 am

    I usually say “Happy holidays” which seems to cover everyone, esp. before New Year’s.

  11. Former Reform Jew permalink
    Thursday, 23 December 2010 11:31 am

    It saddens me that there seems to be a War on Christmas in America. While I do not celebrate this holiday, many of my friends do. In fact, some of the greatest friends that the Jewish people have are people who celebrate Christmas.

    Athiest factions have lobbied to remove nativity scenes, tear down crosses, even forbid the “C” word in schools and workplaces.

    This is all so ridiculous to me. I empathize with the Christians who don’t want to be forced into hiding every December. It’s okay for gays to be “loud and proud” with their life choices, but Christians are being told to keep it out of the public square!

    Because of this, I wish every Christian friend of mine a Merry Christmas, out loud and on purpose.

    As for receiving Christmas wishes – I don’t get many of those. The kipah on my head gives me away, as it were. However, when I wish a Merry Christmas to Christian friends and acquaintances, more than a few will respond, “Thank you. I hope you enjoyed Chanukah!”

    This is actually a step up from “Happy Chanukah”. They are aware enough of the calendar to know that Chanukah was “early” this year.

    Twas two days before Christmas, break out the egg nog.
    FRJ was a-typing on FrumeSarah’s blog.

    A minority view of the people assembled
    Such views you will not see or hear in your Temple

    He wondered if others who read were offended
    Yet, true to conviction, was happy he sent it

    Now it’s time to press “post” and be done in this forum;
    we have no more chagim all the way until Purim!
    ;p

  12. Ilana permalink
    Saturday, 25 December 2010 11:36 am

    How about smiling and just saying, “enjoy your holiday”? Truthfully, this time of year used to remind me that America is a Christian country and I resented it. Eventually I made Aliyah. I love living in a country that runs on the Jewish calendar. Right now the supermarkets finished marketing sufganiot, but they haven’t quite started on the nuts and dried fruits yet. Another week or two I suppose.

    • Monday, 27 December 2010 5:07 pm

      We moved back to the US from Israel 2.5 years ago, but I really relate to what Ilana wrote. I usually say, “You, too” Sarah – but it’s often preceded by a “mmmm…” as I try to quickly figure out what to say!

  13. Kat Johnson permalink
    Wednesday, 29 December 2010 7:54 am

    I’m posting you a link to my note on Facebook I wrote about this “holiday confusion”. I got so frustrated this year, for so many reasons! We have a really small Jewish community here, and there is just SO MUCH Christmas…but my biggest pet peeve is people wishing me a Happy Chanukah on Christmas…

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=482889344366

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