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Joshua Sharf

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December 24, 2005

Christmas Time Is Here, By Golly...

Disapproval would be folly. Along with the obligatory denunciations of excessive materialism and trivialization. (This notwithstanding. Jonathan, really.)

There's a point where people think that the Commercialization of Christmas started, and that it's always about 10 years before they started thinking about it. I remember reading Peanuts comics in the 70s, with Linus & Charlie Brown complaining about it. But Tom Lehrer sang about it in the 60s. Stan Freberg satirized it in the 50s. (Hat Tip: Music You (Possibly) Won't Hear Anywhere Else)

Ah, well, the 50s were the Organization Man and the 60s were decadent, so what could you expect? Now, the 40s, there was an earnest decade. Really? White Christmas? Meet Me in St. Louis? It's a Wonderful Life? They may be all about community and family, but not much about religion. Go read through the whole set of Dickens's Christmas Stories, and tell me where religion shows up. ("God Bless Us, Everyone" could as well be Thanksgiving, if the English had Thanksgiving.)

The Puritans banned celebrating Christmas because they thought the celebrations were frivolous.

Ah, I hear you cry, easy to say this about someone else's holiday. What if it were you own? Well, it is. People know about dreydles & latkes but forget about the confrontation with Greek culture. Next year's Purim slogan should be "Putting the 'Haman' back in '

The problem isn't that Christmas (or any of the other holidays) are trivialized, but that they're infantilized. Tha we substitute the form for the content doesn't make the form irrelevant. It's one thing to get trapped by the things we do to celebrate, but it's still ok to enjoy them.


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Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud