Jewish Christmas Tree Angst in Autumnpaulabernstein
Jews and Christmas trees just don’t mix, right?
Comedian Susie Felber feels guilty about celebrating Christmas and I can relate. Like Felber’s parents, my parents were strongly connected to their Jewish heritage.
While Felber’s family celebrated Christmas, my parents were inconsistent about it. Some years, there would be stockings hung on the fireplace and other years, we’d let the holiday pass without acknowledgment.
Christmas isn’t for another few months and yet I’m already dreading having to face the same old conflicted feelings about the Christmas tree.
Now with kids of their own, Susie and her brother, Emmy-nominated writer and NPR personality Adam Felber, continue to exchange Christmas presents as adults.
“It has only hit me recently how odd it was to be full-blown Jews who really did it up on 12/25,” writes Susie Felber, who had an online dialogue with her brother on the new website kveller.com about why their parents celebrated Christmas.
“I think Jews and X-mas presents — not as uncommon as you might think. It is definitely an “American” thing to me. But I don’t think I’d be doing Santa if I hadn’t married a Christian,” said Adam.
Susie says she felt guilty for celebrating Christmas, as do I. My agnostic husband (his parents were nominally Jewish and Catholic) likes Christmas, but it pains me to have a tree in the house.
It’s never easy for Jewish parents to tell their kids they don’t get to celebrate Christmas.
I had always vowed that I would not be what I viewed as a sell-out Jew, those with Hanukkah bushes — or even worse, Christmas trees. And yet, eventually I came around to the idea of a tree.
“We have a menorah for you,” my 8-year-old daughter argued quite persuasively last year.” It’s only fair we should have a Christmas tree for daddy.”
She had a good point. I thought it was only fair that I should respect my husband’s tradition. I relented and we bought ourselves a small tree. I admit I had fun decorating it (with homemade items only!).
I suspect it’s the beginning of a family tradition. Sure, I feel guilty about it, but then again, guilt is a family tradition as well!
If you and your spouse have different religious traditions, how do you deal with the holidays?