I absolutely love being Jewish during the Christmas season. Especially when Hanukkah is nowhere near the 25th of December, like this year. I don't have any shopping to do. Or wrapping. Or cooking. Or baking. Or cleaning. Or preparing for family gatherings. I don't have to decide who will be stuck at the kids' table. Or what I will serve to the vegan. Or to the one on the low-fat diet. I get to enjoy Christmas music and Christmas lights and Christmas sales. I get to receive lovely holiday cards with photos of kids growing up, and I don't have to send any in return. I wonder if this is this what it feels like to be Christian during Rosh Hashanah and Passover. Hmmm... must ask some of my Christian friends when those holidays roll around.
When I was a kid, my across-the-street neighbors, who were Jewish, used to have a Christmas tree, and we used to go over to their house and help them trim it. I loved it, but I never wished for my own tree. It sort of seemed weird to me for Jews to do that. But whatever. It was fun. And at the summer camp I attended, the last big activity of the summer was always Christmas, complete with a huge tree, cookie decorating, face painting, and presents. My senior year of high school, I spent Christmas with my friend at her family's farm in Virginia. I got to spend time with her younger cousins who firmly believed in Santa Claus. I got to go to Christmas mass. (I must admit I was nervous about that. I remember saying a little prayer to God before I set foot in the church, just to let him know I was still Jewish and this was only me sharing a holiday celebration with my friend.) I also got to milk a cow, but that's sort of besides the point.
So you see, I haven't missed out on Christmas. And I have to say, I loved when my own kids believed in Santa, and they plotted to stay up all night and watch the house across the street (the one with the twinkling Christmas lights) to see Santa arrive. I loved it even more on Christmas morning when they swore they saw him on his sleigh. And I loved it the most when we had a perfectly lovely lazy day, going to the movies and eating Chinese food.
So whether you're Jewish or Christian, or something else entirely, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season is filled with love and laughter, good health and good fortune. See you in 2011!