The earliest memory I have of Christmas was when Santa came into our living room, unannounced, and handed out cookies to my sister and I. We were so young at the time that my brother wasn’t even born yet! We found out later it was our elderly (she was assuredly younger than me at the time) next door neighbor Mrs. Dubs. We should’ve been tipped off by the hermit cookies she was famous for. But at ages 2 and 4 we were too ready and willing to believe it was really Santa. And I must admit, just a teensy bit scared of this bouncy red clad intruder.
A couple of years later – a bigger deeper voiced Santa appeared – very jolly and carrying lots of gifts. I remember not being quite sure of the situation – my little sister wasn’t either – but we were delighted nevertheless. It wasn’t until much later that we learned it was our daddy himself!
It was around that time, maybe a couple of years later that our mom would take us downtown and we’d visit Santa himself at Smith’s Department store. We’d then visit the perennial Christmas exhibit set up on the walkway between Smith’s and Bartlett’s (the snooty store). It was one of those you used to see with miniature mice sitting around playing cards and yet more mice jamming away on their musical instruments with appropriate Christmas music playing in the background.
We LOVED it and couldn’t wait to go see it each year.
But it wasn’t long before that display was overshadowed by the one across the river. We’d all get on the bus at the Tunnel in downtown Windsor for the short drive across to the states. Once on the other side we’d trek on over to Hudson’s and join the throngs already assembled to ooh and aah at the window displays there. To this day I haven’t seen anything to quite match the magic and fascination of those Christmas scenes. There’d be anything and everything from solemn nativities to Santa’s elves at work to children singing around a beautiful twinkling tree.
And I am so glad that my elementary school years were well before the years of rigid political correctness. We had a Christmas pageant every year and for many of those years I got to sing in the choir. And I enjoyed every moment of it. As a little girl from a Jewish home who was simultaneously learning Torah and Hebrew, it didn’t bother me one bit that we were singing Odes to the birth of Christ. To me it was a time of fellowship and joy and I belted out those carols with gusto!
And so I wish to all of you – whatever your personal beliefs may be – enjoy this time of year for the sheer joy of it. If your personal beliefs differ then take the opportunity to focus on the good in people. I believe that is always essential and especially when day after day we are reminded of the worst.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy 2015 to all!
2 thoughts on “A Few Christmas Memories from a Jewish Grandmother”
Wonderful story Guila! I was a little afraid of Santa too when I was little so I am told.
Thanks Kathy! re Santa – yes, especially when they really “boom” their voices.