All right, fine, I’ll admit it. This was a harder-than-expected Christmas for me. I got teary eyed during Will Farrell’s Elf. I got choked up watching Beauty and the Beast. I didn’t mind the Christmas Carols so much. I made the Christmas Tree. I made ornaments. I wrapped presents with no care about the significance of the color paper. I accepted a stocking and filled stockings. I helped my nephew believe in Santa.
I haven’t seen a lot of other converts writing about it this year and I’ve never had such a “heart strings used as banjo” Christmas since becoming a Jew. I think it is okay to admit that Christmas is challenging, even for the converts that are good Jews.
This was the first year that my nephew understood what was going on, he’s nearly 3 now. He knows about (and believes in) Santa. He sings Christmas Carols and watches Christmas movies and it is fun. Man, Christmas is fun with kids around. We haven’t had a kinderchristmas experience in a long time.
So there is something hard about realizing that if I have kids, they’ll never have Santa or the magic of Christmas morning. Yes, I know, it’s just one day. Or one day and a couple weeks of suspense leading up to it. Or one day a year over the course of a lifetime that adds up to fond memories.
I love the way my family has morphed Christmas over the last few years. The first of this kind was when I lived in London, so I missed it. The next was just a couple weeks after my sister had moved into the new house, a week after my Grandma’s funeral, and a few weeks before Henry was born. Oh and the day I finished telling the family I was converting. It was a nice respite from the painful holiday season leading up to Christmas and felt like a family-only baby shower.
Last year it overlapped with Hanukah, I think, so I took my menorah and lit it on the table after dinner. Henry was just about to turn 2, so he didn’t “get it” yet. Why all the fuss? But this year, he gets it and I get it. I won’t stop going to be with my family for Christmas and really, just like everyone else says, it is a secular holiday for us. An official reason to have dinner together, give presents, and treat Henry to new traditions.
It’ll morph again if I ever have kids. We’ll have to figure out how to include them without making it their holiday. It seems so much easier in the Jew Classes. It was so much easier before I saw how magical Christmas is to an almost 3-year old. And I’ve never been around a Jewish family to see how kids learn and grow into Jewish holidays, so I don’t have that to even the spectrum out. I’ve never seen a 6 year old ask the four questions or a group of kids play driedel.
Maybe that needs to become a part of mentoring converts after mikvah. Helping us see the magic in Judaism through children’s eyes. Cause I get why it’s amazing through adult eyes, but what is the Christmas morning of being a Jew?
I’ll tell you right now, I’ll delete any mean comments and I get to define mean. I’m not interested in debating Christmas and Jews, history of persecution, nichtal nacht or any of it. Not right now, so don’t bring it up.
I am and will always be in an interfaith family. Mine. And I have to admit that I may never have a Jewish family of my own beyond the family I cobble together from friends and congregants and bloggers.
What are your magical childhood memories of growing up Jewish?
P.S. This has now been cross-posted at JewsByChoice.org.