I, much like most people, love the holiday season. The lights sparkling along streets and shopping centers, the buzz of people coming and going, the joyful upbeat songs in stores, the whole thing is so uplifting. Drew, being three, is finally starting to pick up on the season. For the first time I am confronted with what Christmas means to a Jewish family. It has been a subject I have debated before (read here for my past blog) but now that I’m really face to face with it, it has a whole new meaning.
Growing up I waited in line and sat on Santa Claus’s lap. He delivered gifts to my house and even brought my mom a much needed winter coat one year when I wrote him a letter to do so. I have memories of going to non-Jewish friends’ houses and helping them decorate and sharing in the Christmas cheer. I don’t remember, however, ever thinking this holiday was one I celebrated. I remember enjoying and participating in the festiveness of it all but I knew very early on that it was not my holiday.
Every Jewish person, regardless of if they want to admit it, is jealous over Christmas. Jews have tried to substitute Chanukah for Christmas in efforts to conform. Chanukah will never, and should never, be the same as Christmas. For one, Chanukah really is a very small, less than important holiday from a religious stand point. Christmas, from my understanding, is very important religiously to Christians. Also, the world celebrates Christmas which ultimately makes it twenty times larger. The tiny end cap at a store with Chanukah decorations cannot even closely compare to that.
Drew has started asking his fair share of questions. Who celebrates Christmas? Which has followed up with, “so-and-so would like that because they celebrate Christmas.” Then today he berated someone in the Christmas aisle explaining to them that they celebrate Christmas and we don’t. Following that incident came a long segment of whining about wanting to celebrate Christmas.
I am not the anti-Christmas girl. Part of me would like to embrace Christmas because it is fun and what really is the harm in a little Christmas cheer. The larger part of me feels that its important he understand that there is a religious component to this holiday and since we don’t celebrate that religion we will not be participating in the festiveness either. Clearly this may be too large a concept for a three year old but I don’t know how to downgrade that message.
Would it be alright if we just gave him presents for Christmas, a little visit from Santa? Well, that would definitely make him happy. As explained with Chanukah greed, there is not a shortage of gift giving opportunities in this house from about the end of November and sometimes through January. I without a doubt do not think we need another excuse to give this spoiled three year old any more toys.
Would it be alright if we set up a Christmas tree? It might add some beauty and excitement to our home. I think the home improvement renovation that was performed in our new house should be beauty and excitement enough for my toddlers.
Call me Grinch, call me Scrooge, but I’m trying to teach him to appreciate the fun of Christmas without actually participating in Christmas. Is that possible?