Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Santa Talk (Jewish Edition)

It's that jolly time of year! Maybe because Chanukah is already long over, this Christmas season has arrived in seemingly brighter shades of red and green than usual.

Or maybe it's just that my two-year-old is experiencing her first conscious Christmas. And she's blown away. For a week or two, we couldn't walk through the lobby of our building without Louisa stopping to admire the electric menorah. Then, one day, the TREE arrived. No matter that the tree itself is made of green plastic confetti (such a bummer--what's the point without the lovely smell?); it is towering, it is covered in shiny colored balls and lights, it has wrapped presents and a little baby Jesus snuggled underneath its embracing fronds. All in all, completely amazing to two-and-a-half-year-old eyes. It's difficult to pull her away.

When we finally step foot out of our building, within three blocks we encounter one of several Christmas tree vendors, camped out on the sidewalk 'til the big day, with their dozens of trees, bright lights, and blow-up Santas.

Let me back up. This child already has an abiding love for symbols of the dominant faith. She loves church bells. She knows which churches in our neighborhood have the ringing capability, and squeals on the occasions that the bells happen to sound when we are in hearing distance. "I hear the church bells!" she yells, which garners delighted smiles from passers-by, who probably imagine her as a future choirgirl.

Anyway, about the blow-up Santas. There's a giant one above the tree stand on the west side Broadway, and I've found myself distracting Louisa so she doesn't notice it. She'd have to look up to see it, so it's not that hard. All I have to do is strike up a conversation about what she did in school that day, or what we'll have for dinner, or whether we'll hear the church bells on the way home.

I just don't want to have the Santa talk with her just yet. You know, the Jewish version. The one where you tell your kids that different people believe different things and we have lots of nice beliefs but we don't believe in Santa. (And shhh, don't say anything to your friends about what I just told you about Santa. Bella made this mistake once and it still haunts her.)

Here's where I admit that I've been avoiding putting on one of the four episodes in the current TWC on-demand Dora rotation: "A Present For Santa".  Yes, that's right. I'm the Christmas censor. I figure Louisa can learn about Christmas on a need-to-know basis. This year: beautiful trees, lights, and empty fake presents that I constantly have to tell her to put back and stop shaking. Next year: red-cloaked bearded man brings presents to our neighbors, but not you.

(But, don't worry, we have Chanukah!!)

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