I live far-flung from the areas of California where a Merry Christmas Wishes Jewish family seems to live on every block, but even the grocery stores out here have small displays with Hanukkah merchandise in an attempt to be respectful or to capitalize on our holiday. It’s quite funny actually: It seems as if no one in the store knows exactly when Hanukkah is, so they put things out during Christmas and hope for the best.
Irving Berlin (a Jew) wrote a beloved Christmas song, “White Christmas.” Mel Tormé (a Jew) wrote the charming lyrics “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/ Jack Frost nipping at your nose,” from “The Christmas Song.”
And then there are the Christmas albums featuring Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand, just to mention a couple more great Jewish names. When it comes to popular music, Jews have contributed plenty to the joy of the Christmas season.
I say to Christians and others who celebrate Christmas, don’t worry about your Jewish friends and acquaintances, we are just fine. The overwhelming majority of us will respond with a cheery “Merry Christmas” back at you.
To quote the end of Mr. Tormé’s “The Christmas Song:” “And so I’m offering a simple phrase/ To kids from one to 92/ Although it’s been said many times/ Many ways, Merry Christmas to you.”
Oh, and “Happy Hanukkah,” too.