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犹太人对圣诞节说“不”

2014-01-08byLindaK

疯狂英语·阅读版 2013年12期
关键词:圣诞树西蒙圣诞老人

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.

我那“交际花”儿子向着本地一家星巴克里一位排着队的女子挥手。西蒙对那位二十来岁、身着军装的女子很感兴趣。而她则对我那四岁儿子的假期计划产生好奇。

“圣诞节要到了,你开心不?”她问道,同时弯下腰,与西蒙的视线保持同一高度。就在她身后,金色的圆球装饰正在咖啡店里纤弱的圣诞树上闪着微光。

我儿子还没来得及回答,那位女子又接着道:“你希望圣诞老人给你带来点什么礼物呢?”

我儿子微笑着。“我不庆祝圣诞节,”他郑重其事地说。

“噢,那你庆祝什么呢?”

西蒙站得更直了:“我庆祝光明节。”

我感到既吃惊又骄傲。最近几年,与很多信奉非基督教的孩子家长们一样,我总是反复思量着这么个难题。我怎样才能教导我的孩子,应该为他自己的宗教认同和习俗感到骄傲,但同时仍然对我们国家主流社会的传统保有尊重呢?在我小时候,每当有人问我想要圣诞老人给我带来什么礼物时,我的回答常常反叛而粗鲁。年纪越大,这个问题就越让我反感。为什么每个人都认为我正在等候一个穿着红衣服背着一袋礼物的男人从我的烟囱里掉下来呢?圣诞老人送礼物是为圣诞节,而非光明节。

西蒙让我满心骄傲,因为他的回答不仅彬彬有礼而且可爱可亲。那位女子也和善地回答了他,并祝他光明节快乐。

儿子的表现让我感到惊讶,因为我原以为他还是一心想着圣诞老人的。仅仅在这次星巴克偶遇之前的几个星期,西蒙还在恳求我们,希望能够进入附近一家购物中心临时搭建的圣诞老人之家看看圣诞老人。我让他站在那个仿建的圣诞老人小屋门口,呆呆地看了几分钟,然后催促他到购物中心的游戏区去玩。他暂时挥去了同圣诞老人闲聊的念头,但几天后,当我们开车经过城市主要绿化带时,树上闪烁的灯饰光芒又一次引起了他对圣诞老人的注意。

“看啊,那棵树顶上有颗星星,”西蒙说的是那棵最高的松树,接着他又毫不停顿地问道:“妈咪,今年圣诞老人能给我带礼物吗?”

“不能,圣诞老人不能给你带礼物,”我说道,尽量让自己的语气显得温和。“如果欣赏这些彩灯,那是没问题的,但我们不庆祝圣诞节。我们庆祝的是光明节。”

他在安全座椅里陷入了沉默。在最近这次星巴克的偶遇之前,我都不确定西蒙是否听懂了这条信息。这位好心的女子问了一个也许在她看来无伤大雅的问题。但对于许多非基督教徒来说,这是一个意味厚重的复杂问题。我们确实住在美国,这里大多数人都庆祝圣诞节。许多犹太人也不觉得在他们家里摆上圣诞树或让他们的孩子坐到圣诞老人的膝上有什么问题。甚至即便我丈夫在家支持我的“不过圣诞”原则,他很可能还是会带着西蒙去购物中心看圣诞老人。

如果我的儿子喜欢圣诞老人,我能够接受,但对于西蒙坐在圣诞老人膝上这种想法,我仍然觉得不舒服。为什么呢?因为圣诞老人常常会问那个陌生人也会问的问题:“那么,今年圣诞节,你希望圣诞老人给你带来什么礼物呢?”据我所知,圣诞老人不会问:“今年光明节,你希望圣诞老人给你带来什么礼物呢?”他也不该这么说。这两个节日是截然不同的。圣诞老人是一项与圣诞节相关的传统,庆祝耶稣基督诞生的一天,耶稣是基督教徒们所热爱的人物。而光明节则是少数犹太人所庆祝的为期八天的节日,某种程度上是为了庆祝马加比家族战胜叙利亚希腊人,后者试图消灭犹太教起义。

在小时候,对于我来说,圣诞节是一年中最为难熬的日子之一。从九岁时开始,我的兄弟们和我就是俄亥俄州一所乡村教育体系里仅有的几个犹太人。牧师们在一年一度的圣诞集会上带领着我们做祷告,我和同伴一起在学校的圣诞音乐会上唱诵着我们对基督的热爱。当陌生人们问我“圣诞节你想要些什么?”或甚至是“你的圣诞节大采购完了没?”时,我从来都不知道该如何回答。我希望自己能够就顺着他们的意思编造些答案。但圣诞节让我紧张不安,令我觉得甚为困难和恼怒。我没办法像我儿子那样轻松应对。我的同龄人里甚至几乎没人知道光明节是什么。

我儿子有着优势。我们所居住的波士顿市郊有三间犹太会堂。西蒙有朋友也庆祝光明节。圣诞节占据了主导,但人们也了解其他宗教的存在。前几天,我走进一家本地的银行,里面摆放的既有一盏烛台,也有一棵圣诞树。

今年光明节的八天里,我们将有四天会与家人或朋友一起欢度。在第八天晚上,我们计划参加一个朋友的“ChrisKwanukah”庆祝派对,这是向三个冬季节日致敬的一次聚会。我丈夫预言说,这个聚会将令西蒙提出一堆新问题。对于我来说这不成问题。我不想向我儿子回避美国的信仰多样化。不过,在家里,我们谨遵惯例。就像他在星巴克里告诉那个陌生人的那样,他庆祝的是光明节。

小资料

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。

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