Page From My Book: I Want A Christmas Tree Emily Foster

When I moved to New York, I never expected that I would fall head over heels in love with Christmas. It’s not because of all the iconic Christmas movies shot with waltzing romantic backgrounds of New York. It’s not the snowy, bundled bustle of people amongst the holiday spectacle. No, for me it’s that (annoyingly & adorably), the sidewalks become actual Christmas tree lots. And I have to walk through them every day.

Christmas and I have had a complicated relationship at best. I spent a lot of years feeling left out and Jewish and annoyed. I was pissed at Christmas decorations for being so cute, at the implausible story of the virgin Mary, but even pissier that my friends got to decorate trees, leave cookies for Santa and feel a part of the inescapable holiday season.

I’ve spent snowy Christmas days in movie theaters trying to forget that everyone is having the biggest party I’m not invited to. I’ve also spent them trying to regale in all that the season has to offer – decorating friends trees, keeping an advent calendar, making tins of cookies – but not even the green and red donut holes can fill the space that hurts. If you buy into the media’s depiction of Christmas (and I do), it’s a day where every stylish waspy person you’ve ever seen opens perfect packages of Ralph Lauren cable knit sweaters, snuggles with puppies and laughs with loved ones while eating Cornish hens. Of course juxtaposed to this is the image of me opening tube socks and eating greasy potato pancakes covered in sour cream. But really, I’m not complaining. Three cheers for tube socks.

When I pass the trees, my heart just leaps. I want to be one of those people awkwardly dragging a fresh baby pine back to an inconvenient 4th floor walk up, leaving a trail of needles. And then doing whatever the people do with Christmas trees – stare at it? In my imagination, I decorate it and then sit next to it in a rocking chair drinking whiskey while cuddled up with an afghan. And all month the tree greets me, welcomes me home and talks to me when I’m lonely at night. I’m not crazy, you are!

Here are some trees I’ve seen and love. So if you are one of the lucky ones, please decorate with care. Whether you do DIY ornaments or create a special tree theme, just remember there are less fortunate Jews out there that don’t get to have one. So let me live through you and tell me all about your trees!

Photo credits: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

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  1. I’m Jewish too and love the holiday season. I feel guilty for wishing to decorate my house in lights. I did buy a lighted garland for my room that isn’t christmas theme, but me and my friends decided on making a Channukah Holiday party and were decorating my house (not with a tree). Menorahs are pretty and Channukah is the festival of lights, so who says we cant decorate our houses with lights? And by the way The “Prestige Caterer” in your picture, is actually my neighbor!

  2. Even though I celebrate Christmas every year, the same thing happened when I moved to New York. I fell in love with the holidays, especially when one of the biggest/awesomest tree lot sidewalks opened up right outside my building (!!!) The inconvenient walkup stops me from getting a real tree every time, though.

  3. My tree is a tiny fiberoptic USB powered one. It stands about four inches. Yey?

  4. I have Jewish friends that still get a Christmas tree. They call it a Jewish bush though. They decorate it with the Star of David and all Jewish related ornaments. You are allowed to do anything you want. Go get yourself a tree and decorate it to the means that makes you happy.

    • Oh Kim, I wish I could. But per Erin’s post above you, It is definitely in my brain that it is forbidden. But tell me all about your tree!!!

  5. I too am a Jew. For some reason, my parents instilled that having a Christmas tree of any kind is more or less against Jew code in a major way. I lived with a boyfriend a few years ago who was not a Jew. Our first Christmas together, he wanted a tree, naturally. The first week I was so distraught having that “thing” in our home. Then it grew on me. The next year guess who was the one asking, “Can we go get the Christmas tree now?!?”….Just don’t tell my mom.

  6. I decorated my friends tree last night, I’m going to my parent’s house to help decorate theirs tonight and I’m having friends over for a decorating party on Sunday! I LOVE Christmas trees. Ironically enough, I just found a pine needle on the back of my phone lol. Anyway, they’re beautiful and even though they take up a lot of space it makes your home feel so much more festive. So I say get yourself a Christmas tree!!

    Also, after the holidays the trees are destroyed in Battery Park. I work down there and it smells fantastic for weeks!!

  7. We missed out on a tree last year (sort of) and we do celebrate Christmas. My mom decided not to buy a tree last year. She made us go search for pine branches, then took three bamboo poles and made us “make our own” with twine. It was really sad looking. SHE’S TRYING TO DO IT AGAIN THIS YEAR.

  8. We have a huge tree this year and believe me, once the magic wears off, and you realize you have a dressed up dying tree in your living room, it feels very silly.

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