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!