When I was a kid I always thought that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was a reference to Hanukkah. The theory was wrong on so many levels, the least of which is that Hanukkah is only eight days long, four days shy of my twelve. So I have decided that this blog post will be my Christmas Special written in the spirit of that kid whose Twelve Days of Christmas was Hanukkah.
For those that are not familiar with my full body of literary genius, I sometimes make oblique references to a wandering Jewish philosopher and his entourage of fishermen. I go to church on Sunday and I happen to think that the Jewish man in question has a sense of humor (if He doesn't I'm in trouble, Matthew 24:20 is his only joke on record.). My personal view of Christmas and the world in general is founded in large part on that guy, so keep that in mind as you continue reading.
Christmas for the most part was a political move for the early Christian establishment to co-opt competing pagan festivals and strengthen its power base. (Yes my love of conspiracy theories goes way back but pine trees and yule logs have nothing to do with a carpenter's kid from Nazareth.) So when I hear about this group or that group protesting Christmas in schools, or making a stink because some governor put up a "Christmas" tree instead of a "holiday" tree I have to laugh. Christmas is a hodge podge of beliefs and traditions that some how all got glued together by the story of a baby boy. With that thought I am now going to launch into some religious history and theories to spread a little bit of tolerance and love this Christmas season.
We are going to start with Abraham. At least half of all the worlds religions think Abraham was a pretty important guy. He had two kids with two different women, and a lot of today's problems can arguable be traced back to Abraham's dysfunctional family. His oldest kid, Ishmael spawned the Islamic faith and they feel that by right of primogeniture they are entitled to Abraham's inheritance. The Jewish and by extension the Christian faiths claim Abraham's inheritance through Isaac who was the chosen son because he was the only child of Abraham's actual wife. Both have valid arguments, but I don't think either makes a good enough excuse for blowing up the other.
Isaac's kid Jacob had twelve kids by four different women (consider that next time you want to get all judgmental on the Sister Wives, "polygamy" is integral to the Judeo-Christian narrative but it would take an act of God to convince me to try it, I have a hard enough time with one wife). One of those kids was named Judah. His tribe became known as the Jews. So Jews are a specific branch of Jacob's family tree, and if you read your Good Book Judah was not even the good son, If memory serves me correctly they had to talk him out of killing his brother for a styling coat and he had to settle for just selling the the poor kid to a couple of passing Egyptians.
But despite the dubious family lineage this Jesus fellow that every one made a big fuss about was born Jewish and died Jewish, so to player hate a tribe for a few bad apples doesn't seem very fair. If you believe a Jewish kid from Nazareth is the redeemer of the world or not how is a day of celebration a bad thing?
We all want to be Mexican on the fifth of May regardless of our stance on illegal immigration. We all claim an Irish uncle on Saint Patty's day, so why can't we pretend that the Jewish kid is an Irish Mexican who got some gifts from a few wandering queens (see how I worked in the Hispanic vote and the gay vote, maybe I should run for president). Peace on earth and goodwill toward men can never be bad thing and I believe the "Christ" in Christmas makes that possible in my little corner of the world, and if you want to be culturally sensitive think about how happy Daddy Abraham will be that we remembered his Great Grandson's birthday even if the day is conveniently close to the winter solstice and the Day of Mithra.