When I was little, I wondered why Santa didn’t know the addresses of any Jewish families. I also remember rolling my eyes every time my parents tried to convince me that The Chanukah Man was just as good as Santa Claus.
When my son was about five years old, he was in the local drugstore walking through the aisles wide-eyed and incredulous at all of the ornaments, garlands, wreaths and angels for sale. That is — he was delightfully walking down the rows of sparkle until he promptly lay down on the ground, in the middle of aisle 5, and threw a temper tantrum for the entire town to enjoy screaming that the store hated Jews since there wasn’t even a single menorah on any shelf anywhere (that year, Chanukah ended at least 3 weeks before Christmas started).
It is not easy celebrating the Holiday season in America if you are not Christian. It is even harder celebrating the Holiday season in America if you are Jewish. And it is extra hard celebrating the Holiday season in America if you are a little boy with a Christian dad and a Jewish mom. Being a mongrel is always tough; being a mongrel at Christmastime can be the loneliest feeling in the world.
So, as a rather non-religious but sometimes uniquely spiritual mother of a challengingly brilliant and skeptical mongrel, I started years and years and years ago creating a Holiday Table in our home that celebrates the beauty of the season — recognizing all practices and customs without judgment. Our holiday table includes pinecones and animated plush toys; menorahs, dreidles, candles, bows, and small golden Christmas trees. We have deer and angels, gelt, Snoopy and Harry the Chasidic dancing man. We brighten our home with a table full of good cheer – but more or less leave religion at the door.
Then, a few years ago, I started helping my boyfriend decorate his home for Christmas. We had garlands literally strung from one corner of his house to another. Lights twinkling in every crevice and blow-up statues parading through the front yard. I resurrected his mother’s winter wonderland, carefully unwrapping each doll and replica – creating toilet paper ski slopes and neighborhoods of toy houses and sleds laden with talented, wooden, and seemingly ancient ice skaters.
I started looking forward to house decorating by January 1 and then started wondering why I was denying my child this same kind of fun in our own home. In fact, why did we never decorate my house when I was a kid?
Why would we teach our children that holiday lights absolutely and only signify the birth of Christ, when, in fact, sparkling lights of so many different colors hanging around your house as the year ends just kinda make you smile and feel good, whether you’re celebrating the birthday or the season.
So….a couple of years ago, I started decorating my home too. I put up garland and gold stars, tinsel and animated menorahs. The spirit of my Holiday Table now spread throughout the doorways and walls, and although I was nervous when my parents came to visit and the tinsel seemed to triple overnight, the decorations celebrate and share the season with family and friends in an undenominational and simply pretty sort of way.
And my son? Well, he’s now 16 and I could have Santa Claus and the Chanukah Man over for dinner on the same Friday night and my child would still insist that I was doing it all wrong. He no longer derails the drug stores for marketing to the biggest spenders and he no longer misunderstands the intention of the American holiday season. He helps with the Holiday table so long as I really beg and make him feel really guilty. And while, admittedly, I may have been passing on mixed messages by featuring the Hell’s Angel Santa Clause singing Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer in the center of our Living Room Holiday Table, my house wonderfully hums with the American holiday season with a tune of its very own creation.
Lauren Perez is the President of LVP Solutions, LLC – a professional consulting firm offering businesses, attorneys and law firms expertise, knowledge and know-how certain to increase revenues, combat competition, control costs and ensure regulatory compliance. Building upon all the out-of-the-box business solutions uniquely offered by Ms. Perez, LVP Solutions is your tool to soundly control and manage the oftentimes overwhelming demands of a highly competitive global marketplace.