"Jewish Kid Born On Christmas Day Talkin' Blues"  Sally Fingerett

from Christine Lavin Presents JUST ONE ANGEL

Sally Fingerett bio/photo

Back in 1954, down in Chicago, by the south shore
Baby girl is born that Christmas morn
oohhh here comes drama . . .

Of those Christmas babies that arrive
she’s one of the lucky -- in the first five
Wins free diapers, a whole years supply
oohhh got a happy mama
The hospital nurses were more than delighted
to help with the names they get all excited . . .
“Name her Mary Carol? Or how bout Christine?  
There’s always Judy or Josephine
You know, use the letter J . . .  
in honor of . . . ssshhh the baby Jesus”

But the parents were having none of that
so they gently replied to avoid a spat
“Oh, thank you for those names --
we’re not Christmas people so if it’s all the same
we thought we’d go with something Jewish
something Hebraic
we’ll call her Esther Shandel”

That’s quite a handle for a brand new baby
a trend was starting in the 1950’s
Names were getting Americanized
down sized
de-ethnicized
A futile attempt to depolarize
and so the family decides to be
Translatin’  
Truncatin’
ultimately . . .assimilatin’
So the beautiful and biblical name of Esther Shandel
gets homogenized on down . . .
They call her Sally
That would be me

Now being born on Christmas really sucks
I got a lot to say and you can trust
My litany will be very long
for years I’ve tried to write this song
I’m a cranky old broad with no decorum
I’m stealing licks from this talkin’ blues forum
It’s my turn to have my say
cuz I’m a Jewish kid, born on Christmas day

I’m a Jewish kid
Jewish kid born . . .
on Christmas day

I remember back, when I turned 5
no birthday party would ever jive
No little friends could come around
cuz the Jewish ones had all left town
They went to Florida
Christmas break at Bubbes’ house
and the Gentile ones . . .?
Well, come on . . . it’s Christmas!

Back then gas stations and movie theatres were closed
There was nothing open goodness knows
Just one rickety Chinese restaurant
“Happy birthday Sally, have whatever you want!”
What do I know?
I’m five!  
They give me rice . . .
and a fortune  cookie!!

On our way back home from eating Chinese
we’d drive up and down the icy streets
Peeking into windows see Christmas trees
we’d have us a contest
Which side of the street had the best Christmas lights
sparkly houses lit up bright
But I’m a little girl
I start to cry
I don’t understand why
“the Baby Jesus”  is out in the cold
in the front yard manger
covered in snow

Why didn’t they bring him in
where it was nice and warm
Near the fireplace
where the stockings were hung
Let him open presents
with the girls and the boys
Give him Christmas cookies
let him play with toys
I’d give him my fortune cookie
my fortune said
“Learn many languages.  Go far”
I wanted to learn to speak Catholic,
and go to Christmas

‘Cuz I’m a Jewish kid
Jewish kid born . . .
on Christmas day

I turned 10 in 1964
I was miserable down to my core
Radio and TV were a horrid bore
remember? before cable?
Radio blasting choirs from the Vatican
TV humming with off-the-air patterns
Christmas people rushing everywhere
For us, alienation and despair
There was nothing to do but sit and wait
and wait
and wait
and wait
and wait
and wait . . .

As the world came to a screeching halt
midday on December 24th
Folks said don’t worry kids it’s over soon
felt like we were lost, marooned
Thankful our cousins from Skokie would visit
Aunt Lill was planning on bringing a brisket
She called to say they were out of gas
tations were closed they’d have to pass.
“Oohhh, Happy Birthday Sally,”
my mom starts to bake a cake
we’re out of eggs.
OY!

Well, really I could go on and on
no doubt this is one depressing song
Truth is no one forgets my birthday
cuz they know it’s a drag and they all call to say
"Hey what a drag"
and I say "Yeah, thanks"
and then I ask them what they
Got for Chanukah?  
Cuz now, this year, it’s also Chanukah
Damn!

I get birthday calls on Christmas Eve
so now I call it Birthday Eve
Just a chosen few get Birthday Eve
who?   I’ll tell ya!
Humphrey Bogart
Jimmy Buffet
Annie Lennox
and Sissy Spacek
I wonder if they all get
birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper?
“Look, it’s Charlie Brown with Lucy and Linus
dressed as the three wise men standing
over Snoopy as . . .
shhhh the baby Jesus.”

In spite of myself, I’ve grown up
trying not to be a bitter adult
But the biggest mishegas of all
is when I’m out shopping at the mall
I’ve had a lovely time perusing
my credit card is perched for using
The cashier asks for my ID
I hand it over
He takes a peek
and then I hold my breath
As I wait to see if he notices
Yep, he notices
Stand back
here it comes
every time
“Oh . . .  you’re a Christmas Baby!”  

Right then and there I have to make a choice
to just say thanks, or raise my voice
And let loose with my talking blues
but hopefully I'm smart enough to choose
To just let it go
turn the other ear
because that’s what the
ssshhhh Baby Jesus would do
           
He too was a Jewish kid,
Jewish kid born . . .
on Christmas Day!

Credits:

Sally Fingerett:  guitar and vocal

Blues by Sally Fingerett © Green Fingers Music, BMI administered by Harry Fox  sallyfingerett.com, fourbitchinbables.com

updated: 7 years ago