“Some Jews have Christmas and some Jews don’t. We don’t but I want one of those round things you hang on the door.”
So says the rabbi’s kid!
What happens when the rabbi’s family is the only one without Christmas?
Our small remote resort town Jewish community is amazing - almost all of our families hail from multiple traditions and we still maintain a great sense of Jewish identity for us and our kids. With many of us having non-Jewish spouses and family members, almost all of us have Chanukah and Christmas and still maintain a strong sense of Jewish family - this is a success story.
And yet, the rabbi will not have a wreath (or a tree or Santa)!
My American Jewish kishkes (gut) says quite clearly that Jewish homes, especially emblematic Jewish homes of rabbis, don’t have Christmas.
I love the compromises that our community’s families have managed, such as: “we do Christmas for Mommy (or Daddy) even though it isn’t our holiday” or “Christmas is time for a family get-together and Chanukah is our holiday”. I have a lot of sympathy with these solutions.
Up until now, in addition to providing Jude with a rich Jewish home and social life, our idea on Christmas was to travel and spend it with Ginny’s family. Ironically, due to seasonal illness, we haven’t done this in the last few years, so Jude has never joined us for his grandmother’s Christmas. Perhaps, if he had a history of knowing this, we wouldn’t have the issues with him over Christmas this year.
Since we can’t lock ourselves in our home for one month every year, our solution this year is:
We are NOT putting a wreath on our front door, or on the grill of our car.
We will celebrate Christmas at Jude’s non-Jewish grandmother’s home, and Santa will deliver there.
When he encountered Santa in a public place, we let Jude sit on his lap (and took a photo), hoping that Santa would be a smelly repellent person, which unfortunately wasn’t the case.
We say “Christmas isn’t a Jewish thing,” instead of “Jews don’t do Christmas”.
We attempt to let Jude explore Christmas without making it a taboo.
I truly believe that we get to learn from and have a richer life when we experience lots of cultures and traditions. I know Jude will choose his own Jewish path, and I am relatively confident that letting him explore his Santa issues now will enrich that path in the future.
We’ll see what we have to come up with next year!