Monday, December 5, 2011

Red Alert: Guest Post from The Mommy In Law

I am pleased to introduce you to one of the funniest and most talented bloggers I've had the pleasure of connecting with. Roni and I were competitors in Blogger Idol, which is how we became friends. She writes a blog called The Mommy In Law, because she's a mom and a lawyer. Clever title, clever lady. Last month I asked her if she could tell a Christmas story from the Jewish perspective for DKL, and make it funny. She hit a home run. Enjoy, then go follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Santa: Why do you hate the Jewish kids?

When my son was 5, some kid at school told him: "Hanukkah sucks and Christmas rules!" My son came home crying. How could I possibly get myself to tell him that what the boy said was true? Hanukkah DOES suck compared to Christmas. Let's be honest here: how could Hanukkah (or any other holiday) ever compete with a holiday that takes up the entire year's 4th quarter and includes incessant music, stores filled with goodies, special cartoons and movies on TV and in the theatres, piles and piles of cookies, candies and baked goods, presents galore, a giant tree in your house that you get to decorate with lots of glittery stuff, and a big dude in a red suit that brings you everything you want? There is no competition, folks. We lose.

It is for this reason that some Jewish children living in the secular world get really grumpy around Christmastime. Sure, they get 8 days of gifts (if they're lucky), but these gifts often consist of merely socks, books, and/or small toys. (What the Gentiles might call "stocking stuffers.") And yes, while they still get to watch Frosty the Snowman and the Rudolph cartoons, and might even be fortunate enough to get invited over to a friend's house to help decorate their tree, it's never quite the same. Most of them have never experienced the anticipation of opening their gifts on Christmas morning and checking to see if Santa ate the cookies they left out for him. For Jewish kids, Christmas usually simply means there's nothing on TV besides a parade and everything is closed except for movies and Chinese restaurants. (Which is why we are known to hang out in these establishments on Christmas Day.)

By the time we are adults, we're used to it. For most of us, we learned at a very young age that Jews don't have trees and that Santa doesn't come to the Jewish houses. As kids, we think, "Who is this miserable guy!? He skips over the Jewish kids' homes?! How mean! What did we ever do to him? We hate him and the reindeer he rode in on!"

But, I was a precocious child, and figured I could outsmart even the most savvy of jolly fat guys in red suits. That's right--I would trick good ol' St. Nick and make him believe that we were a house full of Irish Catholics (or one of those other religions).

And so, at approximately 6 years of age, I instigated a revolution in my household. I announced that I would be celebrating Christmas and whomever wanted to join me could too. Well, it appeared I was on my own, as Mom and Dad were not thrilled with this idea. This was evidenced by their refusal to buy me a tree. "Who needs a real tree?," I thought. I was a creative child. I'd figure it out. And I did. I made my own one dimensional tree out of green construction paper. I taped it to the living room wall and stuck makeshift decorations all over it--cotton balls, Cheerios, shredded aluminum foil, my mother's jewelry.

Cheaper back then
Then, I found my red knee socks, and hung one up on the mantle with my name written on it in masking tape. There! I was all set for the arrival of Kris Kringle.

Yes, the thought did cross my mind that it was probably more "naughty" than "nice" to attempt to punk Santa, but I would deal with the ramifications AFTER opening all the wonderful presents he would bring me.

As Christmas approached, my parents expressed some worry that I would be devastated to wake up on Christmas morning to essentially NOTHING (except for a plate of uneaten cookies). So, they had no choice but to break the news to me right then and there. It is something that all children must hear at some point in their lives, and it can be equally devastating for Christians and Jews. Yes, one never quite forgets the first time he/she hears the words:
WHAT?! I, like most young children, got mad at my parents for fashioning such a hideous lie. I would shout "Of course there is! I saw him with a kid on his lap at May Company this morning!" My parents soon realized it was no use. I was expecting Santa come hell or high water.

NOT the actual necklace
Then Christmas morning came. I awoke and shot out of bed like a bullet. I ran to the paper tree. Alas, there were no presents under it. Not a one. But, there was a large lump in my red stocking. I ran to it, hoping it would not be the hunk of coal I'd been hearing about. I stuck my hand all the way in and pulled out a small jewelry box. I opened it and inside was a beautiful gold necklace with a Jewish star dangling on it. There was also a note (in my mother's handwriting). It said:

Dear Roni:

Santa doesn't come to Jewish houses. It's not because he doesn't like you. Don't take it personally. He's just really busy with the Christians. Enjoy your Jewish star necklace. Happy Hanukkah!

Love, Moses
Moses?? Are they kidding me! Wow! So this Santa guy really didn't exist after all. Clearly, if he existed he would have shown up. Parents must be the ones who leave the gifts! This realization changed everything.

Yes, the Jewish kids knew Santa was fake at an earlier age than the Gentile kids did. Would we try to spoil Christmas for the kids who still believed by telling them the truth about their beloved St. Nick? Maybe--If they were real meanyheads. But, I never did. His secret was safe with me.

As for Christmas, I learned to live without it (while surrounded by it). And we bend over backwards to make Hanukkah as much fun as is humanly possible for our kids. It must be working, because I've never once seen my kids hang a red sock on the mantel or glue a cardboard tree to the wall.


  1. Hugs & kisses to you DKL!!! You're the best!

  2. So my Jewish wife, who had very giving parents, had a Hanukkah bush on Christmas morning. Yes my wife was the last of her friends, many of whom were christians, to realize that Santa did not exist. I think she was 13.

  3. Roni hits it out of the park again!

  4. I'm dying laughing reading this, but there is something I can't help to ask. As a non-Christian who celebrates xmas, not as the day baby jesus was born, but as a time to celebrate family, and being together, and being happy..... why could you not do something of the same sort? I don't think I could handle watching my kids deal with the mainstream ideal, and being upset and feeling left out.... I would have to do

  5. Heather: there were years that we did save all the Hanukkah presents and open them on X-mas day (same idea) and have a family dinner on X-mas, but no tree EVER!

    John: Some of my friends had the Hanukkah bush, but it still sucked since you were limited to blue and white decorations.

  6. There are some years I think that the tree is just a damn pain in the ass anyways. Do you realize that I have 5 large boxes of lights and ornaments just for something that is only on display a few weeks out of the year? I dint even know why I feel like I have to have it. . .lol.

  7. Excellent post Roni. You captured perfectly what it is like to be a Jew -- a lonely Jew -- on Christmas.
    I think with my kids, we make such a big deal out of Hanukkah and they have at least a little exposure to Christmas, they won't feel left out.
    But we'll keep the green construction paper handy just in case.


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