Up until I was six years old, my family celebrated Christmas. Although both of my parents are Jewish, our family was not particularly religious. They just thought Christmas was a fun holiday for kids. I still fondly remember my Miss Piggy star ornament sparkling atop the tree. Ahh, memories.
In 1984, we moved to a new town in a new state and joined a synagogue. As December rolled around, there was no tree, just a menorah in the kitchen and a pile of Hanukkah presents in the corner of the living room. Don't get me wrong: The latkes were tasty, the gifts were just as good... but I missed believing in Santa. Had he and Rudolph abandoned me forever? While I still joined in the secular festivities at school (singing carols at holiday concerts, making wreaths, Secret Santa games), December 24th and 25th were inevitably a letdown.
Fast forward ten years: In high school, I began dating a Catholic boy—and like a holiday miracle, Christmas returned! Not only did I eat a delicious meal and exchange gifts with his family, I was even allowed to sleep over on Christmas Eve. I was a jolly, happy soul once more... until we broke up and I had to find a new Christian boyfriend to spend the holidays with. On the occasions that I did not have a boyfriend during "the season," I was the sad orphan Jew (is this where The Little Matchstick Girl tale originated?) invited to one of my friend's family functions, like Midnight Mass—merry, merry, joy, joy! Or I'd just go out for the Chinese-meal-and-a-movie combo with my own family. Kind of depressing.