It’s Christmastime and Ax has been asking about when we are getting our Christmas tree. Repeatedly. We told him last year that we don’t get a tree because that’s not our family’s holiday tradition. Last year he was satisfied with that answer and didn’t ask again.
This year he’s not letting go so easily. I’m feeling the force of all the happy Christmas specials, the lighted trees in every other storefront, his preschool, and even the Supermarket parking lot calling to him like a siren’s song, “Get a tree, get a tree, get a tree.” The neighbors have lights up and he wants to know why we don’t.
I’m not going to talk to him about Hanukkah like it’s some consolation prize. It’s a fine holiday with miracles and fire and gifts and songs but it’s no Christmas. I’m not going to pretend that our menorah is as fun as a big tree you get to decorate with lights and ornaments and popcorn garlands.
I’m not going to start buying him a bunch of toys and bicycles and giant stuffed animals so his Hanukkah gifts can go head to head with the big and plentiful bounty of his friends’ Christmas haul. He’s got enough stuff.
I remember getting socks, undies, books, and chocolate for Hanukkah. And sometimes if I wanted something big during the year I’d get it and my mom would say, “That’s for Hanukkah,” even if it was July.
I tried to get in the Hanukkah spirit while driving Ax to school today. We started singing “Dreidle, Dreidle, Dreidle,” and it was feeling quite jolly and fun when Ax seamlessly segued into “Jingle Bells.”
I’m trying to sort out what part is loyalty to tribe and what part is laziness. At Christmastime I feel so lucky to be Jewish, to get to avoid the commercialism, the stuff of it all. The expectations. It just seems like a lot of work and a lot of non-recyclable trash. For me, December 25th has always been about sleeping in, Chinese food, and a matinee movie. But maybe this year we can do all that and get a non-denominational tree too. Oy.