Religion & Beliefs

Christmas Trees are NOT the Problem

Over the next few weeks, you’ll find a lot of good Chanukah tips here at Faithhacker, from a host of fabulous guest-bloggers. A list of ways to make your holiday season more meaningful, fun, creative, unusual! But to start us … Read More

By / December 5, 2006

Over the next few weeks, you’ll find a lot of good Chanukah tips here at Faithhacker, from a host of fabulous guest-bloggers. A list of ways to make your holiday season more meaningful, fun, creative, unusual! But to start us off, I can’t help using this platform to say something I think is really important… especially for the interfaith set, at the risk of pissing some folks off.

STOP freaking out so much about Christmas trees!!! I’ve spent the last year of my life traveling around the country, reading and talking to people who are either intermarried, or mightily afraid of intermarriage, and without fail, the thing everyone is most scared about is a fucking pine tree. “What will the kids think if we have a tree???” “What will my mother say???” Tell your mom it’s not a big deal. Tell her it’s a houseplant. There are plenty of hard issues you’ll face in your religiously pluralistic household, and you may need a therapist to help you figure out your kids’ Sunday school identity, or how to handle the in-laws. You may need to talk about whether your new extended family thinks you’re going to hell, and whether you’re allowed to avoid them altogether if they do… but a tree? C’mon, it’s no different than little pink hearts at Valentines Day or a jack-o-lantern at Halloween (a similarly druidic/Christian holiday… and I doubt you’ll freak out about those. What’s the big deal with Christmas trees? I mean, Israelis put them up for Sylvester (itself basically a Christian holiday). Instead of worrying about these symbols, ask yourself how to make your own observance more meaningful, so that the tree isn’t a threat. Take a look at what your own symbols stand for, and if you aren’t sure… go read a book (I use this one)! The more your own tradition means to you, the less upsetting and threatening you’ll find a cultural Christian symbol.

And if the absence of a tree is what makes you Jewish… well, that’s pretty lame.