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Chanukah Bush

by Ilana Angel

December 15, 2009 | 12:53 pm

The infamous Chanukah Bush

I happen to think that having a Christmas tree for the holidays is not cool in a Jewish home.  I don’t care if you decorate it with blue and silver and call it a Chanukah bush, it is still a Christmas tree and Jews don’t have Christmas trees.  Let’s clarify that this is just my two cents and everyone is free to have their own opinion on the subject and people are able to do whatever they want in their own homes. 

I always get just a bit resentful around Chanukah because this time of year is geared towards Christmas and we are lucky to get an honorable mention here and there.  I asked my brother why he thought there was no advertising for Chanukah during the holidays and his response was “Because Jews don’t pay retail Ilana so why should they waste their marketing dollars?”

My nephew Ben, who is five years old and delicious, goes to a non-denominational school for kindergarten.  In their winter pageant there were no songs about baby Jesus, just holiday songs about snow but the kids were asked to wear Santa hats and write Santa a letter about what they wanted.  My nephew, who clearly takes after his Auntie, refused to write the letter.

He told the teacher that he was Jewish and Santa did not come to his house.  While the teacher did not get what the big deal was, he did not have to write the letter.  When it was time for his class to perform their song, Ben could not find his Santa hat and had to sing without it.  It’s was a Christmas miracle!  Santa threw a bone to the Jewish kid.

When I was growing up we always had a Christmas tree.  We grew up in places where there were not a lot of Jews and my father did not want us to feel left out from our friends so we always had a tree and I always thought it was weird.  He called it a Chanukah Bush which was even more weird.  I look back at it now and think it’s almost cute of my dad, but still confusing and dumb.

The woman who married my son’s dad is not Jewish and they have a Christmas tree in their house.  My son understands that it is not his holiday and that is great.  He can enjoy the holiday, just not in our house, because it’s not our holiday.  If I told my boy I was going to have a tree he would insist that we did not.  He defines himself as a Jew, because he is a Jew, and Jews don’t have Christmas trees.

I’m laughing as I write this because I know people will get mad and write to yell at me, but I keep writing.  I don’t think it’s funny that they are mad but I do think it’s entertaining that Jews have Christmas trees.

Tonight is the 5th night of Chanukah.  It’s been a lovely holiday filled with friends, laughter, parties and latkes.  I’m looking forward to December 25th so I can see a couple of really great movies and grab some fabulous Chinese food and to those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope it is a wonderful day of joy for you and your family.

However you celebrate the holidays, be safe and kind.  Be generous of spirit and help those less fortunate.  I wish you all a Happy Chanukah and remind you all to Keep the Faith.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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