Last year, during the pandemic, I eavesdropped the most brilliant piece of classroom third-rail navigation I’ve ever seen in my life.
This was in my then-third grader’s Zoom music class (we’ll leave for another day any discussion of the crime against humanity that is “grade-school Zoom music class”).
This is always a fraught time of year for grade-school music teachers: They wanna sing Xmas songs, most of the kids wanna sing Xmas songs, but the constant Othering definitely grinds away at the Jewish kids (esp. when they try and “include” you be singing the “Dreidel Song”; that song is crap, and we know it. The Xmas songs are way better).
So in my daughter’s class, the teacher shows this slide: it’s an unremarkable middle-aged White dude, “Mitchell Parish.” Who the heck is Mitchell Parish? Well, he was born in Lithuania, and brought here by his parents, who were Jews (my daughter immediately perks up; Jews! Like us!) and he was a popular songwriter in New York in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s—and he wrote the lyrics to “Sleigh Ride”!
*advance to next slide*
*kids sing “Sleigh Ride”*
*EVERYONE IS A WINNER!*
My daughter felt seen, gentiles got their Christmas carol, and no one had to sing the goddamned “Dreidel Song.”
So there’s the trick to getting to sing Christmas carols in public school:
Start out with a brief bio of the Jews who wrote your Xmas song
(all your favorite Xmas songs were written by Jews; you’re welcome).
Heck, you can do a whole Winter Concert—featuring “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “Run, Run Rudolph”—on just a single bio slide: All four of those classics were written by the same Jew (the inimitable Johnny Marks, whose Jewish brother-in-law was the guy who created Rudolph to begin with).
This is my new favorite Xmas album.
… but for those looking for insights into why the Defeated PotUS is obsessed with an absolutely anti-factual narrative of a rigged election, this is worthy reading, especially the “Royal Intervention” sub-section:
The difficulty remains as to why King Henry and his servant John of Lexington would have believed the accusations in the first place. … While the decision to act belonged to the King, Langmuir believes that he was weak and easily manipulated by Lexington. Langmuir says Henry III has been described as; “a suspicious person who flung charges of treason recklessly, [who] was credulous and poor in judgment, and often appeared like a petulant child. When to these qualities we add his addiction to touring the shrines of England, it becomes easier to understand why he acted as he did…” Langmuir therefore concludes that Lexington “incited the weakly credulous Henry III to give the ritual murder fantasy the blessing of royal authority”. Jacobs on the other hand sees the financial benefits that Henry received as a major factor, conscious or unconscious, in his decision to mass arrest and execute Jews. As noted above, he had mortgaged his income from the Jews to Richard of Cornwall, but was still entitled to the property of any Jew executed, adding that Henry, “like most weak princes, was cruel to the Jews”.
Note the profit motive, the crushing debt, the love of touring from big public event to big public event, the absolute credulity to believe what is convenient, the tendency to flit and flip-flop from outrage to outrage, and a reflex to accuse sinister cabals composed of largely powerless minorities of master-minding vast schemes against a blameless populace.
If all of this seems long ago and far away, then please note that QAnon, Pizzagate, and a goodly portion of current Trumpery-driven White Violence is just this same story repeated over and over and over again.
Nice prayer at the bottom of that link, though.
Anyway, Happy Nittlenacht everyone!!!
Actually, Die Hard — a story about a desperate insurgency against a vastly superior invading force, requiring the near-miraculous marshalling of limited resources —is a Hanukkah movie— Jacob Brogan (@Jacob_Brogan) December 14, 2020
My thoughts on Die Hard and Xmas, from ~2013: “DIE HARD (its Origins), Violence, Redemption, and Xmas (Plus a Bonus Writing Tip!)“
… is a Swastika. #justsayin’
I’m a Jew—born and raised—but I come from a “mixed” family (they say “interfaith” now). My dad is a Jew, but my mom was raised Christian. Both my maternal grandparents—with whom my sisters and I spent a lot of time—were practicing Christians. Interfaith families are really common now (my wife and I are mixed), but were much less so when I was young.
As you’re likely aware, back when I was a kid there weren’t a lot of Xanukah songs for us Jewish kids. But there were absolutely zero songs for mixed half-a-Jews with an Xmas tree and a Xanukiah and a cat that managed to catch fire in the Xanukah candles every year and Xtian grandparents who came to town on Xmas Eve specifically to partake in the Jewish tradition of Xmas Chinese food.
There weren’t many mixed kids like us—and there weren’t any songs or holiday specials or children’s books that reflected what we saw and felt and loved about wintertime.
So these are my songs, for all the little intersectional mixed kids out there, who don’t have any holiday songs to sing.