Home Perspectives Advice It’s not easy being a Jew on Christmas

It’s not easy being a Jew on Christmas


Dear Ella,

I’m bombarded with Christmas. Walking through a mall with all the Christmas decorations, walking the dog past the houses with Christmas lights, surfing the radio for a normal song or the TV for a movie without a Christmas theme, and even buying a cup of coffee in a generic cup, I am in Christmas sensory overload!

People are also in great moods. So why am I so sad? As a Jew, I can’t help feeling left out. I want to join in, too, but feel like my parents are admonishing me from their graves. I like the spirit of the holiday, not the religious aspect. It is a warm holiday at a very cold time of year. The point is, I feel guilty even thinking this way. I can’t be the only one feeling excluded, can I?


Feeling Left Out

Dear Feeling Left Out

Living in Canada, you will always experience this all-encompassing holiday season. It’s the most lucrative time of year for businesses, so it’s very aggressively marketed.

The results are exactly as you describe. Everywhere you turn, Christmas is in its full glory. So what are you supposed to do? Nothing. Stop feeling guilty. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a beautifully decorated house. It’s pretty. The shows on TV are usually good and heartfelt, often with a family theme or a message. As for the tunes, they’re often toe-tappingly catchy. Unless you hibernate in your home without outside stimulus, you cannot avoid this season. Enjoying pretty lights doesn’t make you a bad Jew.

Jews everywhere experience the same feelings. Even Kyle from South Park has a song called A Jew at Christmas. Chanukah usually falls around the same time of year, and we have the same feelings of gift giving and family spirit through our very own holiday. Lighting candles, family get-togethers, community programs, parties, latkes and gifts will satisfy this warm spirit you are missing. Don’t fight your way through this season. Live through it, enjoy the spirit of the season, and stop feeling guilty.

Dear Ella,

I’m a hard-core smoker and have been for 35 years. I’ve tried to quit many times, but I barely make it through one day.

Logically I know the horrifying data. Our government has made it extremely inconvenient and expensive for me to smoke, and my kids are angry with me for being so selfish. The icing on the cake? My dear friend Barb just passed away. She had lung cancer and was a smoker, like me. I was physically sick and an emotional wreck dealing with the guilt of “I may be next.” So how do I handle this? I have a cigarette! If this wasn’t the kick in the pants I needed, how am I ever going to get out of this?



Dear Addicted

Smoking is a complex habit. It is so much more than a physical addiction. There is a strong emotional component. It is therapy for some, as well as an association with daily routines, a nicotine dependence. A smoking addiction has tentacles that hold on tight to your body and your mind.

Sure, there may be all kinds of help out there, and your friends and family will jump for joy and support you, but the buck stops with you. You are the one who has to walk the walk and not have a cigarette after a meal, or after a phone call, or with a coffee. You need to get through this tough part and be prepared to put in the work –  and make no mistake, it is work.

On the bright side, there is help and support available. Most smokers desperately want to be rid of this dangerous habit and the hold it has on them.

This is your decision alone. Once you make it, you don’t have to go it alone. Tell people. It will make it more real and force you to be accountable. Get help from your doctor, and seek out reading material, online support groups and patches. Whatever it takes, you will never regret your decision.

Ella’s advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.