How to Explain Christmas to Your Jewish Children

When I was growing up, I had the best of both worlds during the winter holiday time. My family celebrated Hanukah at our home with the menorah, chocolate gelt and eight days of presents. I only had to walk over to my best friend’s house across the street to bake Christmas cookies, help decorate their tree and count how many candy canes I could eat before feeling sick. I think it was around 3.

While my children have plenty of Christmas celebrating friends, unfortunately none live across the street and my kids miss out on all the fun Christmas traditions. Being that I can’t exactly shield them from knowing all the delights Christmas that has to offer, in order to help them feel less badly about not partaking in the festivities themselves, I’ve decided to explain Christmas to them in my own way:

Santa Claus is a man who never changes his clothes and comes into people’s homes without knocking. He takes their cookies and makes a mess of their fireplaces.

Do you think Santa Claus pays the elves that make all the Christmas gifts? Do they even get healthcare? Doesn’t seem fair to me. Does it seem fair to you?

Yes, the Christmas lights and decorations are very pretty on our neighbors’ homes. Unfortunately many people have gotten hurt putting up and taking down all those lights. Oh look, here’s a folder of all the cases I found online of people getting hurt. Do you think Dad and I should put ourselves in danger just to make our house look pretty for a month? No, I didn’t think so.

The elf on a shelf is a tattletale. If you step out of line just once, you don’t get any presents for Christmas. Just a lump of coal. And not eight lumps. Just one.

For Christmas you have to build a house out of icing and gingerbread and gumdrops, and then you can’t even eat it right away. That’s just weird. I prefer to eat yummy food right away, how about you?

Let’s watch cable news. What a surprise, a segment about The War on Christmas. I’d rather not be involved in a war. Hanukah is a quiet little holiday no one cares about and that’s the way it should be.

Now, you might be thinking that these are cruel and mean ways to get my kids uninterested in Christmas. You might even be right, but don’t worry. Jewish moms require their children to have a quota of angst over the years in order to adequately guilt trip them for the rest of their lives.*

*I’m kidding, of course. Well…sorta.


Molly’s Christmas Gift

I came across a blogpost from the children’s book writer, Susanna Leonard Hill. She’s organizing a picture book contest. Please check it out here, especially if you’d like to enter: The rules are to write a holiday themed story, 350 words max, where weather impacts the holiday. I wrote the story below, “Molly’s Christmas Gift,” for the contest. I hope you enjoy it!

Molly’s Christmas Gift

It was a fair December day before Christmas. The sun was shining and children were playing outside.

Only Molly was upset.

“I wanted it to snow for Christmas.”

Molly wanted other things too. She pulled out her Christmas list. “This list is too small. I need more dolls. And each doll must have a matching dress and purse.”

Suddenly, the winds began to swirl and the clouds darkened up above.

“I only got three jewelry making kits last year. Tomorrow I better have six.”

Children ran inside their homes as rain dropped from the sky.

“Does Santa know I scratched a tea cup in my twelve tea cup set? I need a whole new set now.”

Lightening began to crack through the skies and thunder could be heard by neighbors far and wide.

Molly continued to write.

During dinner she added a peppermint cookie mix onto her list.

During bath time she added marshmallow scented bubblebath and mermaid bath toys.

During storytime she added the entire Empress Elsie book collection.

Every time Molly added to her list, it became colder, wetter, windier and louder outside her home.

Molly did not notice the weather. She fell asleep dreaming of more and more toys she wanted Santa Claus to bring her.

The next morning it was quiet and calm outside of Molly’s house. The only sound anyone could hear was the sound of Molly screaming out, “Where are all my Christmas presents?”

Under the Christmas tree there were no dolls or books or peppermint cookie mixes. The only item Molly found was a note.

“Dear Molly, the weather was too terrible to bring any gifts. Please enjoy all that you have. Love, Santa Claus.”

Molly sniffled as she gathered her dolls. She read her dolls books and then made a beaded necklace from her jewelry kit.

When she was finished with her necklace, Molly wondered if the weather was still terrible.

Molly looked out the window and saw that it wasn’t terrible at all. It had snowed!

A small smile came upon her face. “Thank you, Santa,” Molly said.