Christmas Musings From a Jewish Childhood

Christmas Musings From a Jewish Childhood

I was the Jewish kid who believed in Santa Claus.  Yes, I believed in the jolly old fat man in the red suit who delivered presents to all the good little girls and boys on Christmas Eve.  He skipped my house because I was Jewish, but I didn’t mind that much.  I was getting my eight presents on Chanukah no matter what, and no jolly old fat man or Elf on the Shelf could intimidate me into being good for the last six weeks of the year.  Yet I admit that I had a wee bit of Christmas envy.

Despite feeling like a small outsider, I reveled in the magic of the season.  Christmas was my distraction following my parents’ divorce, and my Jewish mother was surprisingly tolerant about letting me visit Santa at the mall.

I knew it was was wrong, but it felt so right.  Still, Santa was the first man who would hear me utter the words, “It’s not you. It’s me.”  I knew I had to be fair.  Before I even climbed up on his lap, I whispered into his ear in a conspiratorial tone, “Just so you know, Santa, I’m Jewish.”  Then, I made small talk about dollies and bikes, always being incredibly mindful that I didn’t truly belong.

I realize that a job description is not dispositive of one’s performance duties, but even at that age I knew I was crossing a line by asking Santa to make an exception for me.  More likely than not, the fulfillment of a Jewish kid’s pseudo-Christmas wish would bust up the North Pole Union and cause all hell to break loose.   Far be it from me to be the cause of an Elf Strike, resulting in millions of deserving children to go without their presents.  I worried about this parade of horribles, and knew that the only way to prevent a Christmas catastrophe was to be  honest.  No doubt the department store Santa got a huge kick out of my confession.

Yes, the Jewish Guilt was strong in my young heart, but still I believed. I knew at that age that I was persona non grata when it came to Christmas.  I was a Christmas interloper, but that didn’t stop me from loving the lights, the parades, and the merriment of the season.  So I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with glee and belted out Christmas carols with my public school choir.  I helped my Christian neighbors trim their tree, and on Christmas morning, I received a present at their house.  It was usually something small like a package of Rainbow Brite socks or a  My Little Pony, but it was exactly the same as my friend Chrissy and I was totally okay with that.

I believed and I am still partially convinced that I saw Santa one Christmas Eve.  I was probably four years old.  It is a vague memory, which was surely a dream, in which I watched from my window as his reindeer and sleigh raced across the night sky.  Santa may not have been meant for a Jewish kid growing up in Philly, but I loved him with my little Yiddisha heart for all the magic and promise he brought with him each season.


Serving up craft ideas, event ideas, and general dry wit, Abbey enjoys travel, cooking, and spending time with family, friends, and her cocker spaniel. She also has a collection of license plates reflecting the several states where she has resided. If you have a question about, well, anything, Abbey can usually find the answer. She loves planning trips, volunteer work, crafting, cooking, and learning new things to share with the Live Pretty audience.

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