Yesterday I was at our local ice skating rink with my kids. It's in Central Park, and over the sound system there were Christmas songs playing. One after the other. Christmas this, Christmas that. While the Zamboni was going around the ice, I was clapping my hands to a particularly jazzy Christmas tune, wondering if the handsome Harry Connick was singing, when all of the sudden my daughter stamped her foot and shouted, "Doesn't ANYBODY celebrate Hannukah!?!"
My answer? "Not that many people, honey."
As a Jewish mom, I'm bad at explaining why we don't celebrate Christmas. Actually, since Helen told me we had to get some matzah when I told her it was the first night of Hannukah, as a Jewish mom I'm clearly bad at explaining all kinds of things. But that's not the point. The point is it's hard to manage all the Christmas stuff when you don't celebrate Christmas. I was halfway seduced by the pronouncement of the stepdad in Kathleen Schine's The Three Wiessmanns of Westport which runs along the lines of: "This is a holiday celebrating the birth of a man in whose name our people have been persecuted for centuries. Why let them have all the fun?"
But I know this isn't the answer for me. And Christmas doesn't look like all that much fun, anyway. This isn't just sour grapes talking. This is anxiety about wrapping paper, garbage and climate change fueled by plastic toys talking. (By the way, I'm sure there's a connection between climate change and plastic toys.)
For all this reasons and more, I was very glad to read Marjorie Ingall's column about the ambivalent position we Jewish mamas stake at Christmas. Turns out the mushy middle is a reasonable place to be, and when our kids grow up, God willing, they can be ambivalent, too.