I love Christmas
because there's nothing to do. It's a day when Mom sleeps really late, and Dad gets up and makes pancakes with strawberry syrup for me and Marc. Then Dad makes a fire in the living room, and somehow Mom always manages to come down right when the house gets warm and cozy, and she turns on a radio station that plays Christmas carols.

Christmas

Dad says he hates Christmas carols. Mom says we only hear them once a year, he can live with it. Dad tells us not to listen to the words. We spend the day reading in the living room, eating bologna sandwiches, not listening to the words of the Christmas carols. Today, Marc and I decide to do homework because we're the only Jewish kids in school, so its a sneaky day for doing homework because no one else can. We feel like we're getting away with something.

In the afternoon, Marc and I decide to take a walk around the neighborhood to look at people's Christmas lights. We tell Dad we're going sledding.

It takes us twenty minutes to get on all our snow gear and find two pairs of mittens, and then we have to scrounge the sled out of the basement.

It turns out that the snow is too soft and deep to pull each other on the sled--it keeps sinking, which makes it too heavy to move. So we take turns pulling the empty sled. There's lots of new snow, and it's very satisfying to make the first tracks, which Jews get to do when all the Christians are inside opening presents.

Our whole neighborhood is lined with short brown lunch bags that have sand and a candle inside so that they work like lanterns. Each household is responsible for placing lanterns every three feet along their part of the sidewalk. My dad says that this is an astonishing example of communal cooperation, even if it is in the name of Jesus Christ. My parents won't participate themselves, but they give our next door neighbor, Mrs. Bly, permission to put lanterns in front of our house so that we don't break the pattern with our Jewishness.

When Marc and I get back with our sled, Mrs. Bly is in the process of decorating our sidewalk. We all smile at each other, and she wishes us Happy Holidays which really means Merry Christmas To Those Of You Who Don't Celebrate It.

After dark, we look down the street, and it looks beautiful--so orderly with the paper bags' glow resting orangely on the soft new snow.




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