Quite often around Christmas time the NYT or other major publication will run an op ed protesting against Christmas and remarking that Christmas is a big imposition on Jewish people.
The author of this year's NYT contribution to this genre states very clearly that she sees her Jewish identity as a statement of difference from Christianity. For example, she writes, "I have always associated my identity with not having Yule decorations ... Growing up, I considered not having a Christmas tree ... not wearing red and green in December, and not decorating our front lawn in lights as much a part of my Jewish identity as celebrating Passover and going to Hebrew school on Thursdays."
In other words, she defines herself as not something else. Not Christian, not a celebrator of Christmas, rather than as something.
That's not the only way to look at being Jewish. Rather than protesting Christmas, she could be celebrating Jewish identity.
Her stance, that her Jewish identity is defined against Christianity, is described in Bieganski. The Brute Polak is important to some not all Jews as a way to define oneself as Jewish, in an era when many Jews eat pork, intermarry, and do not believe in God. Yes, I'm Jewish. See? I am different from those Bieganskis. You can find examples in the book of this position.
I attempted to post a comment. I wrote,
I taught English in a remote village in Nepal. I was encouraged to participate in Hindu, Buddhist, and local Pagan customs. I did so enthusiastically and joyfully. I love dress-up, I love bright colors, I love folklore and traditions.
People threw red powder on me on Holi. I chewed sugar cane on Shiva Ratri. I worshiped my Nepali "brothers" on Bhai Tika. I was spellbound at a Tibetan Buddhist Mani Rimdu ceremony that lasted several days.
I could go on and on.
I was the only Christian around. Everyone around me spoke a different language and followed different customs and religions.
It never bothered me.
Update: New York Times commenters agree with me. Here's the currently most popular comment:
I have to admit being very confused with defining yourself by what you don’t do. You shouldn’t have to apologize for not getting into the Christmas spirit but the disdain for the pleasure others take in it seems misplaced.