Monday, December 12, 2011

Isn't it Ironic that

a Jewish girl = me, decorated the office X-mas tree?
Truth is, I grew up with a Holiday tree and in Russia, that’s exactly what it was...a Holiday tree symbolizing the coming of the New Year.  I still remember the anticipation and the excitement I felt as a kids first, knowing that my dad was sneaking the tree into the house and then, waking up to it decorated, lit and spinning all in time for New Year’s Eve!  I thought we were the coolest, luckiest kids on the planet not only because we were fortunate enough to have such a beautiful tree but also because it rotated…take that for being ahead of our time!
As a matter of fact, many of our Russian friends- Jewish and not- still follow this tradition and for years I did too until…when Phil came to pick me up for our first date 11 years ago in February, I had a huge white tree adorned with silver and blue decorations standing in my living room (Hanukkah colors you see).  I know, there are so many things wrong with that story but mostly, he didn’t know what to think and told me later that he had to ask the friend who introduced us, “I thought that Alya was Jewish?”  Well friends, that didn’t stop him from putting a ring on it but I believe that soon after; I took down the tree, we got married, I moved to Philadelphia and gave away the yellowing tree…yup, in that order. 
So naturally, I miss that tradition and although each year we've had modified versions of a tree; from decorating a Rosemary bush to stringing lights around a plant that sits permanently in the living room, I think that this year we’re going to do it!  And when I say we’re going to do it I mean that I’ve finally cracked Phil and, Jacob is old enough to understand that Mama needs her tree-fix.  It seems that we Russian-Jews struggle with this decision all the time.  On the one hand, we love the tradition and want to continue it but on the other hand, we are cautious as to not confuse our children who may or may not understand the difference between a Christmas tree and a Holiday tree.  Well, I think that I've waited long enough and Jacob is old enough to get it.  Just the other day, he explained to a neighbor who asked him what he asked Santa for, “excuse me but I’m not Christian.”  Ok, safe to say that my ёлочка (tree) campaign was a success and we are ready for our tree!

Only now I'm not sure if I want the traditional, live, green, pine tree or, a really cool modern one...thinking white!?  I know I know but old habits, like old traditions, are hard to break!
So, what do you my Russian-Jewish and all friends who are reading this think? Do you or have you struggled with this or, am I making too much of it?  Would love to hear your opinions and how you’ve handled it…


  1. Is decorating the office Xmas tree like Neil Diamond having a Xmas album? :-P

    Well, about having a tree at home. The Xmas tree in reality has pagan roots. Many cultures have used a tree during the Winter Solstice celebration (December 21st), way before Christianity started. So, calling it a holiday tree would be perfect! I personally call our tree "The Pagan Tree", even if Lisa corrects me when I do... :-)

    I think your style calls for a funky/modern one. White and gold! :-)

  2. Totally like Neil mom took me to his concert years ago and he had just released his X-mas album so the whole time he's singing songs from it I'm thinking, isn't he Jewish?
    You are so right about it being a Pagan tradition and so it doesn't matter, all that matters is what it means to you!


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