We have a Christmas tree. This is the first real tree Evan and I have had together and it only took 5 Christmas’s and 2 years of marriage to get it. I like to call myself a “big jew” because I look so jewish, but really, I’m not religious, like at all. I celebrate the high holidays and passover with my family, but I really only set foot in a synagogue once every five years. So what I’ve spent the last month (and maybe even the last five years) asking myself is, why am I not more excited about a Christmas tree? They’re so pretty and they light up and I always wanted one when I was a kid. I didn’t even mind having a tree, I just didn’t feel the need to be involved with buying it. What was it about my jewish upbringing that made it so hard to give in to a Christmas tree?
It was the guilt, obviously. It was the fear of what my family would say. They had a hard time coming to terms with me marrying someone who was not jewish (a true testament to how “not jewish” I am). There were no threats of disowning me or anything even close to that, there was just a resigned sigh. It was something they were going to have to come to terms with. Evan and I had all of the important conversations you’re supposed to have before you get married, and while I’m sure there are important conversations coming our way in the future, we have it pretty figured out. He has made a lot of concessions in my direction, we even had a jewish wedding, but it was harder for me to bend in his direction. And really, all he’s been asking for is a Christmas tree. He doesn’t want me to go to midnight mass or set up a nativity in our apartment. He doesn’t even like religion. He just wants a fir tree and some presents under it. So what was my deal?
The turning point for me came this year. Hannukah has come and gone and I did not even take the menorah down from the storage closet. This is actually the first time we’ve even had a menorah, so for a long time I could just say that we weren’t lighting it because we didn’t have one. This year I HAVE ONE. It would have taken about one minute to get it out of the box, but I didn’t. Evan would have been fine with it, and was obviously fine with out it. I clearly didn’t care. But he did care about the tree. And that’s when I knew that I would have to do the whole thing with him. Go find the tree, look at it from all sides, make sure it had enough branches, bring it home and screw it in to the stand. Last night we did all of that, and now we have a tree.
For me, being jewish is about my family. I love seeing everyone at Rosh Hashannah and Passover, and knowing the craziness that I came from. Evan is my family too, though, and Christmas is where he comes from. He’s spent enough of my holidays looking around the table as we all yell at each other and talk about how much food there is and laugh like idiots. My holidays are in September and April, so I’m giving him December.