Thursday, December 8, 2016

Happy Holiday Shit

"Why the hell do we have to be so politically correct all the time?" 
"Why does everything have to be Happy Holidays?" 
"I'm an American and I say 'Merry Christmas' dammit!" 

These were phrases that have been voiced by Past Tense Emily. 
The Emily who grew up in the Whitest of White areas in America, 
and who never met a Jew until I met my husband. 
Because, after all, if the vast majority of people celebrate Christmas, 
why do we have to accommodate the 0.01% who don't? 

Obviously meeting and marrying Adam changed a lot, 
as I learned just how hard it is to find Hanukkah wrapping paper. 
But having kids has changed my mind even more. 
(Hell, having kids has changed my mind on literally every subject known to mankind)

I've talked about before how we don't "do Santa." 
And in prior years it was no big deal at all. 
Aaron would do the Santa crafts, 
and see Santa at my work Christmas party, 
and come home to presents "from mommy and daddy" 
and light the menorah 
and it was all good. 

But now Aaron is 3.5, 
and he's starting to ask questions. 
99% of them coming from preschool, 
which is a private school and thus can do a pretty heavy Santa emphasis. 

Recently Aaron came home asking:
"How does Santa come to our house?  We don't have a chimney." 

Now, this puts me as a parent in a pretty tricky spot. 
On one hand, I'm absolutely comfortable explaining that Santa is a pretend character, 
just like Elmo and Daniel Tiger.
Just like we explain vampires, witches, and mummies on Halloween, 
so Santa is a character in the holiday, 
but he's not real

BUT if I explain that to Aaron, 
guess what he's going to do? 
He's going to march back to preschool and declare: 
which is going to be CHAOS. 
And quickly earn us the MOST HATED FAMILY in all of preschool. 

So I'm in a tough spot. 
I don't want to compromise what Adam and I agree (not "do" Santa). 
But I also don't want my kid dashing all the other hopes and dreams 
of all the other children in school. 

On a much more difficult level, 
our niece and nephew attend the same preschool, 
and they are - what I like to call - "full Jew," 
as in 100% Hanukkah, 0% Christmas
So it puts my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in an even worse position, 
since they don't do anything with Christmas 
(no trees, no stockings, etc) 
so how do they explain Santa to their kid, 
without also being the most hated family at preschool?

I don't have answers for any of the above. 

But I do have a newfound appreciation for the neutral holiday celebration. 
Because if the teachers aren't pushing Santa, 
then we don't have to worry about our kid dashing the other kids' dreams. 

If we just stick to nice neutral snowmen and winter holidays, 
there's less likelihood that my Santa-Is-Pretend-Child will make the Santa-Loving-Children cry. 

Oh, and when Aaron asked how Santa got in our house, I replied: 
"What do you think?" 
And he thought for a moment then said: 
"I think he climbs through the TV." 
Has anyone seen the movie The Ring (2002)? 
Because now I have visions of a dead Santa clawing his way out of a TV, 
coming to kill us. 
So there's that. 


  1. Ha ha that also reminds me of "The Poltergeist" where someone comes out of the TV as well- super creepy! I can see how all of this would put you in a tough spot. Surely google can help you figure out how to explain Santa to him in a way that doesn't ruin it for the other kids?

    1. I also totally thought Poltergeist. That movie, by the way, my school showed to us on Hallowe'en afternoon in fifth grade because THAT'S appropriate. I also have very clear memories of the bathtub scene... Shiver.

  2. Trent asked me point blank last year if Santa was real, and I decided to be honest. I just didn't feel comfortable lying to a 6.5 year old, ,and it felt like lying. I never questioned it as a kid (for way too long), but I wasn't going to fake something like Santa. One of my best friends is Jewish but her mom is Christian and living in the South we're in the 99.9% Christmas community, and she has the same questions as you do. Yesterday they were at my house and her 3 year old was playing with our Little People nativity, and we talked about how really all that matters is teaching our children to be kind and tolerant and loving to ALL. They do stockings and took pictures with Santa but presents come during Hanukkah, so they definitely blend it all together. I agree that it would be better if Aaron's school didn't emphasize Santa and just stuck to winter OR explored all religions even! Could you mention that to them? Maybe provide a Hanukkah craft idea? Could you even be in the classroom for an hour or something and tell the story and do a craft?

  3. This is a really good question. We don't "do Santa" either and we never have. We decided long ago that we would celebrate the "true meaning" of Christmas and that doesn't include Santa. It's easier then to explain why Jews don't celebrate. However, I've told Dave that we HAVE TO have a Christmas tree (when we're home) and stockings, even though they have no religious significance whatsoever. Ha!

    We've always been honest with the kids but we tell them, "You CANNOT ruin it for other kids. You CANNOT tell them what to believe." We also explain that the spirit of giving is what Santa is all about and we do A LOT of that.

    So I think they do the Santa activities at school but we don't do them otherwise. Although they do sit on Santa's lap at Dave's work party, ironically. When they're not terrified of strangers, that is!

    I've never had another parent be mad because my kid "ruined" Santa. Maybe they're all seething behind my back...

    It's a really hard situation but I've had a ton of conversations with conservative Christian friends who don't "do Santa" either because they want to focus on Jesus, not Santa. It gives me hope that there are lots of different approaches out there with lots of different reasons.