all I want for Christmas…

It’s hard out here for a… well, not “pimp,” but “perp.” (Hoping you remember that Oscar winning song?)

See, I am a highly educated, largely secular, but raised Hindu in a Catholic/Protestant world-married to a Jew-mother of Jew-ish (not very observant but with a healthy respect and affinity for Hindus) children-woman. (Phew!)

Yet I love the Christmas season. I love saying “Merry Christmas!” I love the red and green and blue and silver, I love Santa, I love every single soulful, commercialized, warm, gaudy, peaceful, chaotic, true, and false thing about Christmas. I do.

I am a fake, a perp. I know that Christmas isn’t meant for me. I know that it’s meant for Christians. I do.

***

Our children were a bit bummed that Hanukkah fell at Thanksgiving this year. When Hanukkah is between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it gets a bit more attention. They’ve noticed this fact, being so savvy at ages 6 and 8. They miss the attention Hanukkah gets when it’s closer to Christmas. They miss, subconsciously, its  coattails.

Me and my Diwali candles, the gifts we got from my parents in early November? My mother-in-law’s extraordinarily thoughtful and perfect Hanukkah gifts? Both holidays honoring good over evil, light over dark, hope over despair? Those are big things too, but where we live? No Christmas coattails to ride this year.

My Hindu family, when I was kid–we didn’t wait for any coat. We put up a tree, we decorated our house with lights, we exchanged gifts, we sent out holiday cards. It was done. It was expected. We were very good assimilators. My father, the best assimilator out there… wouldn’t not fit in, ever.

And I believed in Santa. I really, sincerely, did, till about third grade (our daughter’s age–she and her  younger brother do believe). I loved the idea of a magical person who cared about you, about what you wanted… a person who motivated you to be “good” or “nice.”

Who wouldn’t want that to be real? I still want that to be real.

I want so much for Christmas, and I want Santa to know.

I want to have a gathering. I want to host our friends and their kids and have a great evening, laughing and sharing and having fun. I want to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with somebody who appreciates it as much as I do (I can think of one person who might like it more than me: I think he’s seen it over 100 times, I went to grade school with him). I want to listen to the soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” like I used to when I lived in Washington, DC,  when my roommate and I hosted Christmas open houses, in between attending so many, many holiday parties. I want to bake cookies and eat them, with at least six other people.

I want to spend time with my extended family. I miss them terribly, and I haven’t seen them since June, and it feels like an eternity. I want my family to visit us.

I miss them terribly.

I want to cook with them, eat pop-overs, Hello Dollies, and samosas with home-made spicy mint chutney…

I want I want I want I want… What do I want?

Time.

Do elves wrap that?

***

I didn’t know until this very minute how very, very glad I am that we didn’t move to Europe in February 2012.

Sometimes Santa gives you what you didn’t even know you wanted.

a blue, blue, Christmas

Legend has it (and when I say “legend” I mean, “family recollection”) that I convinced our dad to get a Christmas tree (in our non-Christian household) because I expressed an understanding that we didn’t have a tree because we couldn’t afford it. That’s an unacceptable thought in my dad’s mind, that one of his children thought he couldn’t provide for the family. A tree was trimmed. Lights were hung. For the next 20 or so years.

Mission accomplished.

Enter our daughter. She came last week, describing with much enthusiasm her teacher’s plans for rewarding the class for good behavior and outcomes: a Christmas party, wherein the classroom would be lit with lights, there would be treats, it would be fabulous.

I said, I thought lightly, “Well that’s great, we celebrate Hanukkah at home, but yeah, Christmas parties are cool.”

Our daughter couldn’t manage the two opposing forces. Her expression turned dark. I asked what was wrong.

“Well, we don’t celebrate Christmas. I don’t know what I’ll do at the party.”

I reassured her that she could be at any party and enjoy any fun she wanted, that I was only talking about what we did in our house, and blah blah blah… I made no sense to a 7-year-old’s black-and-white, yes-or-no, what-the-heck-does-ecumenical-mean mind.

I promised her we would decorate our home. I promised her I would let her teacher know that she’d like to share Hanukkah traditions at her class party (we’re not sure her teacher knows that she is not a Christmas celebrator, per se).

Our son meanwhile, chimed in, with a desperate tone, “Will Santa come here?”

I promised that yes, Santa would come here. I tried to explain that Santa comes everywhere, especially when you have a big family that celebrates Hanukkah (Daddy’s side) and Diwali (Mommy’s side) and Christmas (aunt’s and uncle’s sides).

Our daughter then asked about Kwaanza. I couldn’t elaborate on that one very well, but I concluded that the holidays are a time for love and family and peace and joy and that’s all that mattered. Maybe I told them to brush their teeth and go to bed at that point, I don’t remember.

Today, at our daughter’s insistence, we decorated the outside of the house with lights. Blue lights. Blue for Hanukkah. Our girl asked us when we’d add in the brightly lit animal sculptures and Santas, like some of our neighbors have. I said, “Oh, that’s not really our style.”

Later tonight, we drove through town. Many homes and yards were fully decorated. We ooohed and aaaahed. We arrived back home, to see our dark blue icicle LED lights outlining our roofline, as well as casting some pretty rockin’ reflections on our home, little blue orbs all over the place… very Disco. I love it.

Our girl noted, “I think I like these blue lights. Nobody else has them.”

And at about the same time she was uttering these words, I received a text from a neighbor, whose son told her, “I love those! Can we have blue lights even though we’re not Jewish?”

Happy trimming, lighting, and loving, all of you out there.