Here’s what happens in my head as I’m driving along lately: I see Christmas decorations somewhere. I feel excited about Christmas! I feel guilty about my excitement because I’m Jewish. I have a momentary crisis about co-opting someone else’s culture by planning to get a Christmas tree. I remember that my wife celebrates Christmas. I remember that we’re raising our son Jewish. I get frustrated about all the rules. I think about God and wonder about my beliefs. I rationalize that Christmas trees have nothing to do with Jesus. I decide it’s ok to love Christmas and have a tree and lights and stockings. I worry about sending a confusing message to The Who. I remember hanging stockings as a kid and never being confused about being Jewish. I remember really wanting a Christmas tree and lights and not having them. I get annoyed that I am thinking this much about this topic every time I pass a display of poinsettias in a storefront. I keep driving. I see Christmas decorations somewhere. I feel excited about Christmas! Rinse. Repeat.

What I want is to not feel conflicted about the holidays and to just enjoy them, angst-free and I’m not sure what I need in order for that to happen. Do I really need to choose?

One thought on “Chrismakkah.

  1. As a kid, we really didn’t celebrate Hanukkah — got gifts on Christmas morning but no tree and hung stockings but never had anything in them, left sandwich and cookies from Santa too (which somehow got eaten 🙂 I have no real recollection of lighting candles altho I am sure we did for Hanukkah. Hanukkah in that generation was a minor holiday celebrated with Hanukkah “gelt” only, not gifts. As you know it’s taken on a life of its own because of Christmas in America, which, I am told, isn’t like Christmas in Italy or other old countries– there it’s quiet and religious without all the Americanized lights, flash and razzle dazzle. I did miss not being part of Christmas and looked forward to the ribbon candy we got in the public schools while we were singing Christmas carols all day long, every day. That said, I love the lights (as you know) and enjoy pretty things, which is part of Christmas. I am glad I don’t have to be in the stress of Christmas and tons of gift giving, shopping and money spending, that many of my non-Jewish friends feel they “must” do. Another thing…a liberal Rabbi told me he always had a “seasonal tree” at his house — not lighted — “it’s just a tree, he said, and a celebration of the winter season…not religious at all.” So make of that what you wish.

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