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Funny Confessions of a Jewish Child at Christmas

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With the chocolate money festival (Hanukkah) upon us, it is time to reminisce about growing up in northern Jew Jersey.  Back in the 70’s Hanukkah was a burgeoning holiday for jealous Jewish children begging their parents for presents.  My father reiterated time and again how Hanukkah was not traditionally a gift giving holiday and the rise in commercialism was merely a competition against Christmas in which our family would not participate.  I took that to mean he was cheap.
One night when I was in fourth grade, my father mumbled a prayer in what I believed to be fake Hebrew over the electric menorah in our kitchen.  He then handed me a small wrapped present.  My nagging and crying about being a deprived Jewish child had paid off!  My first Rubix cube was a testament to my relentless badgering and hopefully a sign I could guilt my father into buying me stuff.  I was wrong.  After handing me the gift he said, “Don’t expect seven more.”  Lest you feel sorry for me, I will accept your sympathy.  At school, I had to hear the kids brag about getting a cool gift all eight nights.  Even the Maccabees, who had to clean out an entire temple, had a better experience than I.
I now have a daughter who has grown up in full blown Hanukkah = Christmas mentality when it comes to getting presents.   Now that I am a parent and realize having a child is a bottomless pit of  debt and unexpected urgent care bills, I empathize more with my father.  I was hoping living in Colorado where you actually have to look for Jews, there wouldn’t be as much pressure to dole out my cash during the holiday season.  Again, I was wrong.
During my leaner single years I conjured up my Jewish resourcefulness and found a way to get her an acceptable amount of Hanukkah gifts -the free Santa workshop at a Lutheran church.  While I preserve my  father’s tradition of twisting on the electric menorah candles in the kitchen, I put an end to his practice of robbing a Jewish child of her Christmas gifts.
Nancy Fingerhood is a writer, filmmaker and performer originally from New Jersey.  In her blog, Confessions of a Middle Aged Woman Gone Wild, she combines her humorous and honest writing style to discuss relationships, parenting, aging and anything else that catches her attention. She is currently the co-owner of Vivid Impressions Productions, a photography and videography services company based in Westminster. 
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  • comment avatar Mandy December 27, 2016

    The hardest part of being Jewish on Christmas has nothing to do with piles of presents under the tree or virtually everything under the sun. I can totally relate to this.

  • comment avatar Sheree December 27, 2016

    I love this from a recent Washington Post article:

    Some may simply note, “The holidays are coming!” But let’s be honest: It’s Christmas in the air. Hanukkah is more like the ugly stepsister who gets a little politically correct attention. (And Diwali and Kwanzaa are like the completely forgotten-about cousins who are never included in any family gatherings.)

    Growing up, I never felt cheated by the discrepancy. Maybe it’s because the Detroit suburb where I lived was mostly Jewish, so no one really sent Christmas cards, or had Christmas trees, or sang Christmas carols. I was happy with my catchy dreidel songs, chocolate gelt and oniony-smelling latkes.

    According to a 2013 Pew Research survey, 9 out of 10 Americans celebrate Christmas. Which means that it isn’t just Christians who are cozying up to St. Nick. And I don’t blame all the revelers … after all, it’s almost impossible to resist the two-month-long intense marketing blitz of Holiday Cheer. Who doesn’t want to wear ugly/cozy sweaters, drink spiked eggnog by a crackling fire, play Mariah Carey’s Christmas CD and unwrap ribbon-tied packages while surrounded by a loving family?

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