疯狂英语·阅读版 2013年12期

by Linda K

My social butterfly of a son waved at the woman standing in line at a local Starbucks. Simon was 1)intrigued that the 20-something woman wore Army 2)fatigues. And she was curious about my 4-year-olds holiday plans.

“Are you excited about Christmas?” she asked, bending down to Simons eye level. Just behind her, gold ball ornaments shimmered on the cafes 3)spindly Christmas tree.

Before my son could answer, the woman continued. “What do you want Santa to bring you?”

My son smiled. “I dont celebrate Christmas,”he said matter-of-factly.

“Oh, so what do you celebrate?”

Simon stood straighter. “I celebrate Hanukkah.”

I was dumbfounded and proud. For the last few years, Ive struggled with a common challenge for parents of non-Christian children. How do I teach my child to be proud of his religious identity and customs, yet still respect the traditions of the majority in our country?

As a child, when someone asked me what I wanted from Santa, I often responded defiantly and rudely. The older I became, the more the question offended me. Why should everyone assume Im waiting for a man in a red suit to tumble down my chimney with a sack of gifts? Santa delivered Christmas, not Hanukkah, gifts.

Simon filled me with pride because he answered not only politely, but sweetly. The woman responded in kind and wished him a happy Hanukkah.

My son surprised me, because I presumed he was still Santa-obsessed. Just a few weeks before the Starbucks encounter, Simon pleaded to walk into the 4)makeshift Santa home at a nearby mall so he could see Santa. I let him stand outside the mock Santa house and 5)gawk for a few minutes, then nudged him on to the mall play area. He shoved away his desire to 6)schmooze with Santa, but days later, Santa drew his focus again when we drove by glittering lights on trees in our towns main green.

“Look, the tree has a star on top,” Simon said of the tallest pine, then without pausing, asked, “Mommy, can Santa bring me gifts this year?”

“No, Santa cannot bring you gifts,” I said, working to keep my tone gentle. “Its O.K. if we enjoy the lights, but we dont celebrate Christmas. We celebrate Hanukkah.”

He fell silent in his booster seat. Until the recent encounter at Starbucks, I was unsure whether Simon had absorbed the message. The well-meaning woman had asked what she probably saw as an innocent query. But for many non-Christians, it is a loaded, complicated question. We do live in America, where the majority of people celebrate Christmas. Many Jews see nothing 7)awry with putting a Christmas tree in their homes or taking their children to sit on Santas lap. Even while my husband supports me on the no-Santa rule at home, he would probably take Simon to see that Santa at the mall.

Im O.K. if my son likes Santa, but I remain uncomfortable with the idea of Simon settling into Santas lap. Why? Because Santa usually asks the same question the stranger posed,“So, what do you want Santa to bring you this year for Christmas?” Santa, as far as I know, does not ask, “What do you want Santa to bring you for Hanukkah?” Nor should he. The two holidays are distinct. Santa is a tradition connected to Christmas, a one-day holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, a figure beloved to Christians. Hanukkah, an eight-day minor Jewish festival, in part, celebrates the Maccabees victory over the Syrian Greeks, who tried to banish many Jewish practices.

Christmas was one of the most difficult times of year for me as a child. From age 9 on, my brothers and I were the only Jews ina rural Ohio school system. Pastors led us in prayer at annual Christmas assemblies, and my peers and I sang about our love of Jesus in school Christmas concerts. I never knew how to respond when strangers asked me, “What do you want for Christmas?” or even “Are you done with your Christmas shopping?” I wished that I could just play along and make up answers. But Christmas 8)put me on edge, making me feel even more different and angry. I could not respond with my sons ease. Few of my peers even knew what Hanukkah was.

My son has an advantage. We live in a Boston suburb with three Jewish houses of worship. Simon has friends who celebrate Hanukkah. Christmas dominates the scene, but people acknowledge other religions existence. I walked into a local bank the other day, and both a 9)menorah and a Christmas tree were on display.

This Hanukkah, we will celebrate with family or friends on four of the eight nights. On the eighth night, we plan to attend a friends“10)ChrisKwanukah” celebration, a party paying homage to three winter holidays. My husband predicts the party will prompt Simon to ask a new set of questions. Fine by me. I dont want to shelter my son from the diversity of beliefs in America. But at home, we have one observance. Just as he told the stranger at Starbucks, he celebrates Hanukkah.


















Hanukkah 光明节,又称重光节、修殿节,犹太人在每年年底庆祝的历时8天的节日,纪念两千多年前收复和重建耶路撒冷圣殿(Holy Temple of Jerusalem)的历史。当年一小队马加比族(the Maccabees)犹太人领导了一场反对塞琉西帝国(Seleucid Empire)的起义,恢复了犹太人宗教信仰的自由。