Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ohhhhhhhh. Okay. Now I get it.

So, this being Jewish in a world of Christmas wasn't hard. At least not until this year. I've alluded to this before, but I was not raised Jewish. I chose this faith after a childhood of Shabbat dinners with friends, a young adulthood of reading and wondering, and a slightly-older but still young adulthood of study and reflection. And somewhere along the way I got lucky and met a wonderful Jewish man, and that worked out rather nicely. So I've been Jewish for six years or so, and the whole giving up Christmas thing? Not too bad. And even when Eli came along, it worked out just fine. Until, that is, this year. And now I get what all of my Jewish friends were talking about when they talked about feeling left out of the holidays.

It must be that when you're almost three, the world starts to want to know more about you - your hopes, your dreams, your visits with Santa. I can't tell you how many times Eli has been asked by strangers at the mall, "Did you go visit Santa today?" Or by strangers other places, "Is Santa coming to your house?" Or how many people have asked me, "Is he very excited about Christmas?" The answers? "No," "No," and "Yeah, I think so."

I've found myself needing to walk a fine line these days. The truth is, he will celebrate Christmas to some extent. Since my side of the family is not Jewish, there's plenty of Christmas cheer to be found. We will spend the day at my sister's house, surrounded by garland and wreaths and twinkling lights. We'll be serenaded by Bing Crosby. We'll drink egg nog. We'll open presents. So, let's face it, Eli will celebrate Christmas. But he won't be sitting on Santa's lap at the mall and we won't need to open our flue to let him visit on Christmas Eve.

I'm not sure it would be easier to explain if we didn't have this gray area to contend with, but regardless it's confusing. Not to him, to me. I still haven't sorted out how I'm going to explain it all to him. I suppose it's not as complicated as I'm making out to be right now, and that once I really have to give him hard and fast information - once it occurs to him to wonder why Santa doesn't come here but he does visit his cousins, once he becomes more insistent that we have holiday decorations like the ones he so admires on the neighbors' houses - I guess it really won't be that hard. It is what it is. And for the time being, he doesn't really need to know more than he does. It's Christmas, the lights are pretty, and giving and receiving gifts feels really good. So for now I'll put aside my need to intellectualize, over-analyze, categorize his experiences and just let him be (almost) three. After all, you only get to do that once.

1 comment:

Arizaphale said...

Such a tricky business, especially as Christmas has become so commercial and secular anyway. I have Jewish friends in Sydney who do the whole Christmas tree and presents thing and call it Hannukah. And I mean, I know St Nick was a christian saint but I think Santa is just about as far away from a religious figure as you can get. Wasn't he invented by Coca Cola Inc?? Let's face it, the traditions of Christmas have been pinched from every culture in the world. It has to be one of the most eclectic festivals there is. Pagan holly and ivy, yule logs and all that feasting to make up for the mid winter misery.....I reckon you could easily do many of the Christmas celebratory style things with very little reference to Jesus at all. Heck. Millions of people manage it in this country ;-D
Of course, on the other hand, you may not want to :-) Silly me.
Lovely photo. Thanks for all your comments of late. I have been having a heck of a time trying to get around to all my favourite blogs. Good to hear about your work. Sounds v interesting. I want to share something about it with you but may post it on my blog for anonymity's sake. I've also got another post up my sleeve about the whole anonymity thing as my Best Friend recently lost her job on account of her blog!!!!
oh and btw you can contact me on carolynatjabadotcomdotau. With all appropriate symbols of course :-D
Merry Secular season!!