Maybe it?s my upbringing. When my parents got married, my father insisted the kids be raised Jewish. For the record, Mom?s Episcopalian. And, also for the record, you can spare the e-mails about how that means I?m not Jewish because Jewishness is matrilineal (from the mom?s side).
This didn?t stop me from getting Bar Mitzvah presents (ah, the early ?80s, so many electronic calculators!). And it doesn?t stop me from getting piles of anti-Semitic e-mail, either. Anyway, Momma G said, Fine, we can raise the kids Jewish, but we have to celebrate Christmas.
And so we did. In fact, my parents clipped a headline from a newspaper and taped it to a cardboard Christmas tree ornament they still use every year. It says: ?Santa Knows We?re Jewish.?
Don?t laugh too hard. Is it such a stretch to imagine that one fat man and a bunch of vertically challenged workmen, who are capable of delivering a billion tons of toys to every corner of the globe in a single night with a single sled ? pulled by flying reindeer ? might add a few nice Jewish kids to his list, assuming they?ve been nice and not naughty, of course?
I attended a Reform Jewish day school, and almost everyone I knew had a Christmas tree at home. I don?t remember anyone calling them ?Holiday Trees,? but quite a few called them ?Hanukkah bushes,? which always struck me as lameness on stilts ? like calling a menorah a ?Christmas candelabra.?
And keep in mind, this school, Rodeph Sholem, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was virtually a madrassa of knee-jerk Jewish liberalism. Why, a couple years ago they ? I kid you not ? cancelled Mother?s Day because it was mean to kids with, uh, two daddies. Note, they never canceled Mother?s Day out of consideration for kids whose mothers were, you know, dead. But that?s a battle for another day.
Anyway, I guess it?s because of this background ? plus my supposedly troglodytic rightwingness ? that I just cannot get worked-up about the supposed non-inclusiveness of Christmastime. I don?t know a single Jew, Muslim or atheist who?d be even remotely likely to switch teams simply by seeing a Christmas tree. Santa Claus is not going around like the priests in ?The Exorcist,? waving his bell like holy water, shouting, ?The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!?