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Christmas Envy

Thursday, December 5, 2013
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Ezra's interpretation of "Christmas." Ho, ho, ho.

On the sixth night of Chanukah, Ezra presented my husband with a picture he drew and wrapped himself in shiny dreidel paper.

"What's this, Ezra?" Michael asked, after seeing the picture and exclaiming its beauty.

"It's Christmas!"

Oh. Of Course. A picture of Christmas. Which he drew more than a month before December 25.

"This is the Christmas house, and that's Santa," he explained, pointing to the stick figure shouting, "Ho, ho ho." 

Hear that, Christmas? My Jewish kid with the Hebrew name drew you for Chanukah. He's in the middle of his own bountiful present season and he's thinking of you. And why wouldn't he? You're like the beautiful popular girl in a Santa hat handing out party invites to everyone but him. 

It doesn’t matter how Pinterest-worthy I make our family's Festival of Lights. Or how tasty my latkes are. You know what a menorah isn't? A Christmas tree. You know what latkes aren't? Gingerbread houses.

Your red and green juggernaut of joy to the world is an issue for my kids every year. Wherever we go for the next 20 days, we will be rabbit-punched with Christmas at every turn and hear "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" until we lose the will to live. 

You are a marketing powerhouse, Christmas. Little Chanukah just doesn’t have the skills to compete. It's like Secretariat vs. Eeyore.

I used to try and argue that Chanukah is just as fun. Which is like trying to convince my kids that Connect Four is as much fun as playing Wii. 

I know, because from the time I was 14 until my late 20s, I celebrated Christmas with my Conservative father and my Episcopalian stepmother, who converted to Judaism in the early '90s. Every Christmas Eve, we drove out to her parents' house in Devon. We'd follow this bewitching trail of paper lantern lights along the driveway into their condo. We dined on filet roast and twice-baked potatoes and cauliflower gratin. We listened to Bing Crosby. We drank egg nog. (Which is delicious.) My stepnana always filled my stocking with jumbo bags of Twizzlers. My stepmother arranged the gifts, which were wrapping-coded, and we sat beneath a fragrant tree adorned with sparkling ornaments and passed around presents and were merry. 

And part of me, not even a small part, really wants to celebrate Christmas with my kids. But, since Christmas and Chanukah are so far apart this year, I thought I wouldn't have to manage as much Christmas envy. 

Not a chance. 

"Duh. Of course I want to celebrate Christmas!" shouts Maxon. "Can we do it?" asks Ezra. "Will you think about it?" asks Maxon.

I've been thinking about it for years. I've thought about saving Chanukah presents for Christmas morning. I've thought about just getting stockings, but in Jewish colors, if such a thing exists.

As it is, Chanukah is over and the presents already have been opened. But we can watch The Grinch and Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (We will not watch The Great Christmas Light Fight. Really, ABC?) We can take a stroll through Christmas Village. We can eat sugar cookies and drink egg nog. But this year, on December 25, we will be with all the other Jews at the movies and ordering Chinese take out. Next year, who knows? I might just cave in to Christmas. 

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