Santa, Are You My Unattainable Man?
Written by
Randy Susan Meyers
December 2010
Written by
Randy Susan Meyers
December 2010

There are so many Jewish people who grow up warm and secure in their faith, those for whom the eight days of Hanukah don't have to compete with Christmas: Jewish nurses and firefighters who take Christmas Eve shifts to ensure that their Christian brethren are home for the holidays. These are the lucky Jews with traditions of Chinese food and a movie on Christmas. I wasn't one of them. I grew up with my nose pressed right up to the glass. Like any other bird, blind to the barrier between the glowing scene inside and me, I banged and banged until my nose almost broke. There were no Hanukah traditions in my house. (I get teary and jealous when I hear Adam Sandler sing his Chanakuh song.) Naturally I longed for the sparkles of Christmas. One year my sister and I even hung stockings. What were we thinking? That the keys to the kingdom lay in our old limp socks? Mom was out on a date; we stayed up as late as possible, until, exhausted, we went to bed giddy with the prospect of what would be spilling out the tops of those socks. We didn't know what Christmas stockings were supposed to hold, but boy, we knew it must be pretty darn special for the entire world to be shouting about it—Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, (I'm sure my poor mother either didn't notice the socks, or cursed Jill and I for leaving our clothes all over.) As a teen, I went out with my similarly disposed Jewish friend, Debbie, bought a tiny Charlie Brown-pathetic tree on Christmas Eve and put it up in her room, decorating it with God knows what. Our long dangling hippy earrings? Her mother was not happy. I spent a Christmas with my best friend Bobbi's family, trying to be as adorably Christian as possible so they'd invite me back. Finally, I left home and gave up the Christmas ghost for a few blessed too-cool-for-holiday years. Then I became a mother. Christmas reared its head. I was determined that my children would have a giant piece of the American pie. Why shouldn't Santa love us? We lived with a non-Jewish couple in a big old Victorian House and I fell into Christmas as though I were Jesus' sister. Religion played no role for any of us: it was simply an orgy of food, presents, lights, good will, and Christmas stockings so full we always needed an overflow bag. However, there was always a fly in my Christmas pie. Friends, who hadn't stepped in a church since they were baptized, exclaimed, as though I were crashing their personal gates of heaven, "you celebrate Christmas?" The kids got older. Christmas became more and more of a cracked-glass fantasy. I would have retreated into the world of Hanukah, but I had nothing to draw on, so I saved all my Jew-mojo for Passover, not having any Easter-envy and possessing Passover role models. At a certain point I began to feel as though I were Barbra Streisand in “The Way We Were” and Santa was the Robert Redford I’d never truly possess. He’d hang out with me, for years even, but he’d never really make a commitment. At this point, Honey I've shrunk the Christmas. Last year a miniature rosemary tree from Trader Joes replaced the light-crusted evergreen. Baking: that disappeared. Orgy of presents: that stayed. Christmas morning was still filled with traditions, but the ones we've built up, like bagels before presents. Cooking giant Christmas feast became ordering in Chinese food. It's hard growing up in a world where something is shining on a mountain, and you think everyone in the world except you is allowed up. Was it such a sin to dip a Jewish toe into this Christian ocean of good will? Forgive me my Santa jealousy. I envied those who could turn their backs, but I didn't have the will to spend the day at the movies. This year (with one daughter, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter visiting his family in South Carolina) we're going (almost) straight Chanukah (celebrating a teeny bit late---making it perhaps, Chrismanakuh? Hanamas? Festivus?) The orgy of presents will be replaced by an orgy of Hanukah-stocking stuffers, (eight?) brisket, latkes, and macaroons (I know, I know--that's Passover--doing the best I can here, folks.) Last year I asked, Santa Baby, can you love a Jewish girl? This year, to the great glee of my (Jewish) husband, who's been generous and kind in his acceptance of his once-a-year-faux-Shiksa wife, I plan to return to our cultural roots. We'll watch movies and eat pan-fried ravioli. But I know, I just know, that I'm gonna wake up kinda sad on December 25. Santa baby, just between us: are we breaking up or just on break?

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