In reading Andrea Gardenhour’s Op-Ed “A Christmas tree in a Jewish Home?” [Dec. 5, Opinion], I reflected on my own childhood in Seattle.
My mother loved the holidays. She grew up in a small town where they were the only Jewish family and did their best to fit in (this was in the 1930s). That included putting up a Christmas tree, and she thought they were beautiful.
Fast forward to when my sister and I were young. We had a Christmas tree, Santa, Hanukkah, Passover and the Easter Bunny! We were never confused about being Jewish — we just celebrated everything.
I still remember the day I realized that none of my Jewish friends had either Christmas trees, stockings or Santa (I was about 6). I asked my mother, “Why does Santa come to our house — we’re Jewish?” Her reply was as priceless then as it is today. “Santa,” she said, “wasn’t prejudiced and loved all children.”
To this day, I reflect on my mother’s inclusive message. Being Jewish means trying to live a good life, energetically working for others, doing what’s right and reflecting my Jewish values. It has nothing to do with whether or not there’s a Christmas tree in the house.
Jan Levy, Seattle