Regardless of your religious affiliation, if you went to a typical school growing up, you got a ‘Christmas Break’, thus setting into motion a pattern of taking time off centered around the date of December 25th. Growing up Jewish, this was rather arbitrary since Hanukkah jumps around the calendar, and rarely overlaps with Christmas. Like most normal, eg0-centric kid raised in a non-Jewish area, I began to plea for a Christmas celebration of our own. It began with presents on Christmas morning, and over the years evolved into the full-blown stockings, lights, and tree. Don’t think this was an easy process, though. I had to convince my dad strategically.
Year one: I decorated a house plant with ornaments I made hoping to show him how harmless a tree would be.
Year two: We compromised and agreed that if we put the tree in the basement, where he wouldn’t have to see it, and more importantly, called it a Hanukkah Bush, he’d agree. So, that’s precisely what we did.
Year three: Said Hanukkah Bush graduated to the family room and even got some shiny new ornaments and a tree toper.
Year four: The mantel was dressed with stockings, a nutcracker, and garland, as were the staircases.
However, regardless of our participation in the gifts and decor, we still stuck with a well-known Jewish Christmas tradition: the midday movie.
For all of you who celebrate Christmas because your families are Christian, please think about it and put yourselves in our shoes: Every store is closed. All your friends are tied up with their families or are on vacation. THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO DO! So off to the movies we’d go to bide the time between presents and a family dinner (typically Chinese, a la A Christmas Story….fa ra ra ra ra).
So there you have it: A very Jewish Christmas. Actually, I guess that’s not so revolutionary considering Christmas celebrates the birth of a Jew, so in that case, it’s always been a very Jewish Christmas.
Even though this is my first year staying in Atlanta for the holiday and not returning home to Baltimore, I kept that tradition alive and saw a flick. I even began my own collection of Christmas paraphernalia and have stockings hung below a decorated mantel. I was also just informed by my Atlanta-transplant brother that Christmas dinner is a last minute Chinese delivery. No tree, though. Maybe that will be A Very Jewish Christmas in Atlanta: Part II.