Complicated identities

Throughout the years I have defined myself in many different ways, I felt I was an American Israeli, or sometimes the other way around, I was Caucasian, yet Jewish, but rather as an ethnicity as opposed to as a religion, as I consider myself to be an atheist. I celebrated both Jewish and Christian, or should I say American, holidays. I did so with changing feelings, ranging from a complete joy as a kid to doubt and confusion regarding the holidays as a young adult, to a new appreciations of the sense of family and festivity as a slightly less young adult. And this year I am an Israeli American, or the other way around, living in Scotland and using my European (Polish) passport to get around.

When I was living in the states, people tended to forget that I was not 100% American (I pass), but most people realized that I was Jewish. Now, as I live in Scotland, the first thing people see (or rather hear) is my American accent. To most people I am American. So what if I have a slightly weird name, that’s something folks in America have, don’t they? I don’t know if it’s because the Jewish community over here is so small that it’s literally transparent, or the fact that people can’t grasp more than one dimension of my identity, but since moving here, I have had only a single person acknowledge the fact that I might not be celebrating Christmas.

This year I decided to actually celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah, something I think I never did. I bought a little Christmas tree and I am also lighting a Menorah. As I am getting older and starting to think about having a family of my own, I am realizing that simply having a cosmopolitan identity is no longer enough. I am looking at the similarities between these holidays – they are both about lights, miracles and giving, and their are probably both about making winter less of a gloomy season.

No matter what your identity is, I hope you have a bright, festive holiday.

~ Lir

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