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“And while I was at the Christmas Market this weekend, I found some really cute ornaments and platters! I couldn’t resist!”

“Wait. You bought Christmas ornaments?”

“Yeah. Why not?”

“But you’re Jewish.”

Curses! I have been found out! I know my small nose and fine blonde hair and newly minted Danish-Scottish last name would throw them off the path only momentarily!

Hi. My name is cobycaroline. I am a Jew, and I love Christmas.

I know I’m supposed to be pigeonholed into doing things other than celebrating Christmas: playing dreidel, eating matzah, eating Chinese food, making people feel guilty. I’m supposed to do all these things that are so distinctly different than sitting around a big (fake) tree, enjoying time with my friends and family, and opening presents.

That just isn’t for me.

I will admit that I was raised a little off-kilter. I was raised in a Jewish home. My dad was born and raised a Conservative Jew but attended an all-boys Catholic school. My mother was born and raised as a good Southern Catholic but converted to Judaism in the early 1980s. However, my extended family is Christian, and I was raised with the typical Christian holidays: Easter and Christmas.

We celebrated these holidays not as religiously significant. Rather, we celebrated them as an opportunity for family and friends to come together in love, laughter and joy. We would sit around the table, tell stories and joke around. On Easter, my younger brother and I would hunt for eggs in my godfather’s yard. Permitting the rules of Passover kashrut, we would gleefully bite the ears off of our chocolate bunnies.

For Christmas, I would go over to my godparents’ house and help them decorate the tree. I became a master at stringing garland. My tiny hands were deftly able to maneuver in and about the tree branches and hang each ornament with care. My godfather would lift me up and I would place the angel or star atop the tree.

When I was much younger, I attended a Jewish private school. After the winter vacation, I would tell my classmates what Santa left me or what I got for Christmas.

“But you’re Jewish,” they would scorn.

“Yeah. So?”

“Jews don’t believe in Santa, stupid.”

“Well, what’s wrong with Santa? He brings candy and toys!”

At this point, my classmates would roll their eyes and mock, “Then you’re not really Jewish.”

And they would walk away.

It’s really frustrating to get slammed both ways: I’m either a Jew and therefore not supposed to enjoy Christmas or I’m not a real Jew for enjoying the holiday.

The message, though, is clear: As a Jew, the Christmas season is off-limits and, under no circumstances, am I supposed to enjoy the holiday.

But, oh, how I do!

I love the scent of holly and fir and the rum in any and every drink. I love the jingle of sleigh bells. I love the cookie and ornament exchanges. I love the tacky Christmas sweater parties. Even my Pandora station is set to Christmas music right now, and we haven’t even gotten to Thanksgiving week!

(Un)Fortunately, my husband loves Christmas as much, if not more, than I do. As soon as Halloween was over, he was dragging me all over town to buy all the Christmas essentials. In the weeks since, I have watched my husband light up with joy as he purchased ornaments and garland and icicle lights. I have playfully mocked his look of concentration as he measured the banisters and cursed that he didn’t buy enough holly. I have cocked my eyebrow and put my hands on my hips as I told him no, we cannot put up a Christmas tree until after Thanksgiving.

In these moments of joy and togetherness, I don’t care that I celebrate a holiday I’m not supposed to. I’d like to think that, at the end of the day, if there is something on the other side, that something is going to be pleased that I shared my life and love with those who brought me joy. Not that I sat on the sidelines and pouted that all of the good restaurants were closed. Not that others told me how wrong I was for adorning my house in red and green rather than blue and white.

After all, Christmas comes but once a year.




This entry is forIt's a Trap!, the Week 3 Topic over at therealljidol.

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Comments

awriterswindow
Nov. 21st, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
I don't know why people care about that, since Jesus was Jewish anyhow! Go for it! :) And honestly, a lot of people don't celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but as you said...family, joy, etc (I know I'm being Captain Obvious here). It's funny because Jon Stewart did something a few years ago about how Christmas blows the doors off of Hanukkah and how much he loves it.

/rant

Anyway, I'm just the opposite. My family is Christian but I celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas because I love the Jewish tradition and secretly would like to be a Jew.
cobycaroline
Nov. 22nd, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
One of the reasons I loved Chanukah as a kid was so I could gorge myself on donuts and hashbrowns (basically).

I should also find this Jon Stewart clip...

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