"Shalom! It's Christmas time!" I wish that I could tell you that those words came out of my kid's mouth, but alas, it was one of his classmates. Although Zachary didn't think to put the "Shalom" and "Christmas time" together himself, he is certainly living the dream.
Since moving to Berkeley Zachary now attends the JCC for preschool. For those of you who do not know, JCC stands for Jewish Community Center. In Denver we probably knew one or two Jewish families, and here we have been surrounded by Jews. It has been a great experience for me and it feels really great to be able to expose Zachary to my heritage. The problem is... well, I am a Christmas Jew. Or that is what my husband likes to call me. Dave isn't Jewish and I have been celebrating Christmas myself since I was ten years old. And by celebrating, I mean really, really embracing the holiday cheer. Now let me explain. I am not talking about "the reason for the season", no Jesus here. It's the whole Santa, Christmas tree, and sparkly lights thing that does it for me. I love the music, the stockings, the gift giving and the parties. Really, Hanukkah doesn't have a chance against the fat man in the red suit. I mean come on, fried hash browns (aka, latkes), and a menorah? That has nothing on Bing Crosby, Rudolf, fudge and jingle bells. So I love Christmas, and my kids do too.
Recently David asked me sheepishly "those kids at preschool aren't going to tell Zack that there is no Santa are they?". Man, I hope not. But it got me thinking. Will we become the social pariahs of our Jewish preschool because our four year old blabs about his Christmas tree to his classmates? My fears were alleviated today however when I got to chatting with a couple of mothers from preschool at a play date. They admitted to me that they too have inter-faith families and that their homes will be adorned with Christmas decorations. It was one of those mother's in fact who told me how her son made up the "Shalom, it's Christmas time" song. She was equally concerned about how her son's Christmas spirit may be received at preschool and she was clearly relieved to see that there were other families who "go both ways", so to speak. Apparently, we fit right in at the JCC.
I am happy to say that Zack can have his Yule Log and eat his latkes too.