Holiday musings

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (stljewishlight.com).   Joel Iskiwitch and John DeMott, authors of the  “What can you do?”  sidebar, are congregants at TE.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

I have never grasped the full understanding of Santa Claus. As a child, my mom would hang a stocking, and in the morning I found mandarins and walnuts. This could be the reason for my aversion to both of these to this very day. I didn’t understand it. I knew we were Jewish and Santa was for my non-Jewish friends. Christmas Day was spent quietly at home with a book. Yes, a little lonely, but peaceful. Living in Buffalo, I was almost guaranteed the beauty of snowfall.

Hanukah was special. We lit the Hanukiyot. I had my own that only fit birthday candles! I opened a gift each night, but let me clarify what constituted the gifts. Highlights included a special doll I had my heart set on (remember the one whose hair went up or down when turning a knob in her back or pushing a button in her belly) and Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers. Socks were always popular. It was always simple and usually things I needed. 

However, on Dec. 20 I went into Target for a few sundries. I walked past the toy department where at least a half dozen shoppers had their shopping carts filled with toys. I was imagining the joy on the faces of children as they tore through packages on Christmas morning. It suddenly seemed exciting. 

But what if they were disappointed? Do parents gather all the items on the list for Santa? What if they don’t purchase the exact toys? Does the joy quickly turn to disappointment? I know that I often hoped for more than school supplies. 

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