Christmas when you are Jewish

I have always loved Christmas, ever since I was a little girl.  Everything about it, the TV specials, the lights, the trees, the music and of course Santa.  There is just something mystical about it.   I know the words to almost every Christmas Carol. And every time I hear one on the radio, I can’t help but smile and sing along.    Whenever my boys hear me “fa-la-la-ing” ,  they want to shoot me, or at least shoot me dirty looks. “Mom, why are you singing Christmas Carols. We are Jewish.”  The short answer is “because I like it.”

When I was young, we actually had a litte Christmas tree in our house.   And we got presents from Santa. My parents explained that they wanted to make Helen feel comfortable in our home. Helen was an older woman who lived with us and helped take care of  me and my brother when we were little.  So our nice little Jewish family at least upheld some of the traditions of Christmas. On a sidenote– I just realized,  if my mom is reading this she might get a little embarassed that I shared this part of our family history.   But maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that that they exposed me to this?  We were and always will be an open minded family.

Me with Santa back in 1994

What’s interesting is my own children, just 11 and 12 years old, don’t seem as open minded.  I am not sure where it comes from.  They seem bothered by what happens in society come holiday time.  They don’t undersatnd why so many people just assume you are Christian.

Just days before Christmas, countless people have asked me if I was ready for the holiday, from the nurse at the dermatologist to the checkout person at Target.  Questions I have gotten in the last 24 hours include:  Did you get all of your shopping done? What are you doing for the holiday?  Are you hosting? Do you know what you are going serve? I would never want to make anyone uncomfortable so I try to give some type of generic answer like “I am all set. Looking forward to a seeing a movie and relaxing.  As far as food, nothing special.”

My kids will say to me “Why didn’t you tell them that we are Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas”.    Good question.  Should I be letting the person know I am Jewish?  My boys certainly would say something  if someone directed the question to them.  In fact, I have heard them respond that way when other kids have asked what they want for Christmas.

So what is stopping me?   After much consideration, I came to this conclusion.  I see these questions as friendly gestures.  Even with the debate over the greetings, “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”.  Personally, it doesn’t matter to me.    Life is too short to get bent out of shape if someone wishes you a Merry Christmas.  People are just trying to be nice.  For me, it’s easier just to go along with it.  Does it really matter if I point out that I am Jewish?   What if I came back half-jokingly and said “This is when it’s good to be a jew.”  While Christians are stressing out, we get a free day to sleep in, go to movies, read books and listen to music.

Christmas has typcially been a day of solitude for me.  My husband takes the boys skiing and I have an entire day to myself .  Usaully, I get in a short workout, do a chick flick marathon and eat Lean Cuisine.  This year, I am seeing a movie with my mom and  I am so looking forward to it.

Do I miss those days when I believed in Santa? A little. But I still love Christmas as much as ever, just for different reasons.

As for my boys, may they continue to be proud of who they are and accepting of everyone else.

Merry Christmas to those it pertains to.  And Happy New Year to all.

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