Stay Away From The Light — A Toronto Mom’s War Against Holiday Decor
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Just not at my house.
I love Christmas. I’m Jewish, and I love Christmas. What’s not to love? Gift giving brings me joy (LCBO gift card for my kids’ teachers… they deserve it!) and the constant chorus of ‘season’s greetings’ is lovely. And no need to neutrally greet the season, I’ll happily reciprocate a Merry Christmas!
I’m just glad that for a few weeks people look up from their phones to wish one another well. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, indeed!
Except for the decor. Holiday decor gives me tsuris (Yiddish for aggravation).
Don’t get me wrong. I love holiday decor… on your house.
I’m partial to a minimal look; plain white lights, tastefully strung with just the right amount of dazzle. But I also love the over-the-top houses. The tackier the better!
All the colours, all the nativity scenes, all the blinking and flashing Christmas-ness. It’s awesome. And of course the inflatables… those I really hate, but only because they drive my family to beg incessantly.
This is where my Christmas troubles really begin. Every year as soon as Halloween is done (and that’s another inflatables battle; no, we will not blow up a giant Frankenstein on our lawn…), it’s all that I hear.
“Mom…. please can we put up Christmas lights? Pleeeeeaaase?”
Even my husband joins in, which lowers the pitch of the communal whine but raises the volume considerably.
“C’mon… It’s just for fun! We can call them Chanukah lights!”
See, Chanukah is not Jewish Christmas! Just because they fall in the same month, (usually… the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar…can nothing be simple?) it doesn’t make them different versions of the same holiday. They are totally different, and I, for one, am fine with that! I love observing Chanukah and all its traditions, like eating latkes and lighting the menorah, and I love observing Christmas, from afar.
“But Christmas is for everyone!” my Jewish husband cries. And perhaps this is true, as it certainly has crept into secular society.
Surely we can all get behind the values of Christmas, like giving and peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind. But does embracing Christmas spirit require me to light up my house? Am I Scrooge because I don’t want stuffed reindeer on my roof?
I will confess that we’ve stuffed stockings for our young boys the past few years; it seemed like an innocent and fun thing to do, and the treats inside kept them busy for a few days (read hours) over the Christmas holidays. (Do you hear what I hear? Oh that’s just the sound of my Bubby rolling in her grave).
But, big deal. So I filled some stockings with dollar store goodies. I was adamant that our Christmas-ification would end there. Stockings don’t have to be a gateway drug to a bejeweled house. It’s not like I served a Chanukah ham with eggnog!
I can’t help but feel a little guilty about the lights (my people do guilt well), but I’m standing strong on this one.
I can’t imagine a lit up house, and moreover, I don’t want to imagine the work involved in decorating said house. Hours outside in the cold? Nailing into eavestroughs? We don’t even have an electrical outlet outside! How does one get the lights up so high anyway? Very tall ladders? Pu pu pu… you’ll break an arm. It’s all just too much.
And so, while my house will stay dark this season, the joy of watching my children open up their Chanukah stockings will light me up instead.