Don’t feel bad! I love Christmas, too!
I’m in my car. It’s 5:27 p.m. on a cold, dark day in December. This is Los Angeles, so by cold I mean 63 degrees, and by dark I mean the sun has gone down.
But Wilshire Boulevard is beautifully illuminated, a fabulous, fake, winter wonderland. My radio is tuned to 103.5 FM, which plays nothing but holiday music for the entire month of December, and for the entire month, that’s all I listen to. The lights, the music and the festive mood of decked-out Beverly Hills are making me one joyous Jew. Normally, one can easily get depressed merely by the fact that it gets dark in the afternoon, but for me, the one thing that takes me out of the gloom and into sheer bliss is the holiday season. And by holiday season I mean Christmas. Yeah, I said it.
Now before you get all worked up, let me assure you that I am an extremely proud and practicing Jew. I have no desire to “assimilate.” This is not Goy-envy. I couldn’t imagine being — or ever wanting to be — anything but Jewish. Of course, I get the occasional, what I like to call “gentile urges” to fix something mechanical or split a log with an ax, climb a mountain, whatever. But I love my Jewish identity. I just so happen to also like all things Christmas.
I’m sorry, but I think it’s time for those of us who do like Christmas to come out of our closets. It doesn’t make us bad Jews, although, if you celebrate Christmas, I don’t think that makes you a “great” Jew. But I don’t want to celebrate Christmas, I just want to revel in the spirit of it. Is that so wrong? I guess so, because most of us are afraid to admit it. My close friend and manager, Willie Mercer, was burdened with shame until finally he let me in on his dirty little secret that he too partakes in the guilty pleasure of listening to 103.5!
Willie and I sit next to each other in shul every Shabbat, but that doesn’t preclude us from enjoying “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Sure, I’d prefer “Cholent Roasting on an Open Blech,” but that’s not how the song goes. Who wouldn’t love to hear Harry Connick Jr. sing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Sukkos”? But he doesn’t. So what’s so wrong with loving those songs as they are? Chestnuts are kosher. In fact, I roast them almost every night around this time of year.
Unlike Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, I’m not about to put out a Christmas album. I find it disconcerting, confusing and hypocritical when I hear Barbra sing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Why will she be home? Does it fall at the same time as Chanukah? Oh yeah, this year it does. No wonder.
As a comedian, I have many jokes in my act about the holidays, including a bit about how “The gentiles have all these fun characters like Santa and the Easter Bunny. It’s almost like Disney. But we don’t even have a Grinch, because who would steal Yom Kippur?” Maybe that sounds like I’m jealous of the gentiles because their holidays are better or more fun. Not true. I actually love our holidays, almost every one of them. (I’m not gonna lie to you people, Tisha B’Av ain’t no party).
There’s really nothing Christian about this for me. I wouldn’t buy a tree or go to mass on Christmas Eve. Quite the opposite; I’ll break out my menorah and will be performing my stand-up show at the Laugh Factory — “Merry Erev Christmas with Elon Gold and Friends.” (Dec. 24 at 8 and 10 p.m. Order now! At press time it’s almost sold out!) But that show celebrates the fact that on their silent and holy night, we get to go out and be loud and unholy.
So why should I feel bad, when I’m simply enjoying the wonderful, ripple effects of Christmas? The great perks and benefits that are totally kosher — and there are many:
- Everyone is nice to everyone.
- The magnificent Christmas lights and decorations that adorn homes and city streets.
- The sales are insane! Need I mention that we too, have a gift-buying holiday at the same time?
- It is perfectly acceptable to be lazy and get fat from Thanksgiving to Jan. 2. Finish that work? Naaah! Finish that doughnut? Sure! It’s the holidays!
- Holiday parties at the office — drunken co-workers cavorting with their even more drunken bosses…. What could be more fun? What sexual harassment? It’s the holidays!
- Coffee Bean/Starbucks holiday drinks: Eggnog, peppermint, gingerbread latte’s anyone? (You certainly can’t order a chai tea latke!)
- Entertaining holiday specials and movies on TV (I’ll watch Chevy Chase and his holiday shenanigans in “Christmas Vacation” every time it’s on! Heck, I’ll watch the Yule log!)
- Did I mention the sales?
- Personally, there is nothing better than the fact that for two weeks in December, my agents’ offices at UTA are closed and no one can call to inform me that I’ve been rejected for yet another film or TV project!
- Traffic is almost nonexistent.
- I know a lot of people who get big Christmas bonuses! (Anybody ever get a Chanukah bonus?)