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bah humbug

Bah, Humbug! A Christmas Op-Ed

“Bah, humbug!” exclaims Ebenezer Scrooge, in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Move over, Ebenezer, because I’m on your side! 

It’s not that I have anything against Christmas. After all, my parents drove us kids down Eastern Avenue in Baltimore to see the beautiful lights on display in the neighborhood windows. This was, of course, before 34th Street in Hampden and its over-the-top display. On Christmas Day, Dad turned on his hi-fi, and classical Christmas music filled our house. 

Living in the Pikesville, Maryland bubble cocoons me from much of Christmas. Our local Orthodox day schools ignore the day entirely by making December 25th a school day. Our wedding anniversary is December 26. Therefore, when our boys went to Talmudical Academy, my husband and I were able to celebrate a day early by ourselves

The Hype

It’s the hype that gets to me, and one cannot help but wonder if our Muslim, Hindu and other non-Christian friends feel the same way. For example, my favorite FM radio station plays only Christmas songs starting on Thanksgiving. This year, the station changed its format 10 days before Thanksgiving! I want my rock music back, please.

And like Halloween and back-to-school sales, Christmas ads start earlier every year. Even if not true, it sure seems that way. When stories about supply chain shortages hit the media three to four months ago, I thought to myself, “Hooray!” Maybe this year my Christian friends would focus less on gift giving and more on the meaning of the holiday—peace for all, goodwill towards man, etc. 

Then there are the stories about customers being crushed while waiting for Walmart to open to get a Cabbage Patch doll or a Tickle Me Elmo or a cheap TV. Is this the meaning of Christmas (and Chanukah)?

Syrupy Christmas movies abound on TV. How many times can one watch a Hallmark movie about the cute couple who finally falls in love and kisses under the mistletoe? When’s the last time you watched a Kwanza or Chanukah movie? At least streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime give viewers other options. 


While we live in a country that theoretically separates church from state, Christmas is the most boring day of the year for me. Nothing is open (except for movies – a COVID no-no – and Chinese restaurants). 

Have you ever traveled on Christmas day? We have a couple of times. Once we drove to Atlantic City for a few days of R & R at Teplitsky’s Kosher Hotel. Wouldn’t you know it? Their coffee shop, where we planned to eat lunch, was closed for the holiday. Eventually we spotted a Haagen-Dazs ice cream parlor on the boardwalk. Lunch that day was a huge chocolate milkshake.

Five years ago, we went to Israel on Christmas Day, flying from BWI to Boston’s Logan Airport. The good news—the Southwest tickets to Logan were very cheap. The bad news—our international flight was delayed six hours (scheduled to leave at 3 a.m.!). Everything in the airport was closed. We had to book a hotel room at the airport Hilton to have a place to go while we waited for the 12 a.m. check-in at El Al Airlines

In my opinion, the best place to spend Christmas is Israel. Unless, however, you plan on visiting Bethlehem or Nazareth. I’ve spent three December 25ths in Jerusalem. Ho hum—it’s another day. Shops are open, taxis and buses are running, people are going to work. I can’t help but feel right at home.

Christmas 2021

Luckily, this year December 25 falls out on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath). I’ll be content to sit on the sofa reading, sleeping and eating. I’ll worry about what to do around 5:35 p.m., when Shabbat ends. By then, much of the Christmas hype is over and there’s bound to be a football game on TV.

So, Scrooge, be comforted that you are not alone!

Please leave your comments below. 

Read more by Eileen Creeger.

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