I Cannot Believe

The other week, while stepping out of an elevator at a Nursing Home, a senior resident greeting me with: Do you believe in Christmas? “I have great respect for Christmas,” I answered, hoping to skirt the issue. “But do you believe in Christmas?” persisted the senior. “No, I don’t” I answered.
Aside from the Immaculate Conception and the virgin birth, aside from the very existence of Jesus, there are a number of aspects of Christmas today that I simply cannot believe.
I cannot believe that in celebrating the birth of a savior, countless Christians get “tanked”. If Jesus did exist, I would have an extremely difficult time believing that he is shepping naches as he looks down at Christmas parties where inebriated men lunge at the wives of others. Even worse, every year there are bound to be any number of stories of innocent victims having their lives abruptly ended because of a driver who drank alcoholic beverages with abandon at a Christmas party. Want to get stinking drunk? Don’t you dare use the birth of an innocent child in a manger as your excuse!
I cannot believe the amount spent on Christmas gifts. For that matter, I cannot believe in Christmas gifts altogether! Families who can ill afford any Christmas gifts go into debt, because ess past nisht, it’s not befitting that they should come off looking like a bunch of cheapskates. As a non-Christian, I see a strong connection between Christmas and Christmas gifts. But those gifts should be in line with the teachings that have been handed down in the name of Jesus. Go read to the blind! Arrange for a visit to the Veterans Hospital, or any hospital for that matter. Why not invite the widow or widower who lives down the street, to join you for Christmas dinner? I’m sure that such gifts from the heart would mean a great deal to the widow or widower, just as it would mean a great deal to his/her daughter in Denver as well as to his/her son in Seattle. I’m also sure that it would mean a great deal to the priest, minister and preacher handing down the teachings from the man who lived in Nazareth.
I cannot believe what passes for Christmas songs. While there was quite an outcry over “grandma got run over by a reindeer” and Porky Pig stuttering his version of “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you”, songs such as “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Frosty the Snowman” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, or “I Saw Mommy kissing Santa Clause” ought to leave those who are truly celebrating the meaning of Christmas just as cold as the newborn shivering in the manger.
As a Jew, as an American Rabbi, I have my own selfish reasons for decrying the current observance of Christmas or lack thereof.  I cannot help but feel that when it comes to observance, American Jews take their cue from the larger community. As such, the more serious Christians are about the observance of their festivals, the more serious we Jews will be when it comes to the observance of our festivals. Believe it.