As a Jewish parent in the US, I'm very conscious that my children will be exposed to Christmas and Santa Claus. In fact, like most Jewish parents, I worry that they'll feel envious of the Christmas experience or feel a real desire to blend in and do what everyone else, it seems does and celebrate the holiday. Because they attend Jewish Day School, my elder children are surrounded by children who embrace Hanukkah and there's no feeling of missing out. But my daughter attends a secular pre-school and today, she met Santa Claus.
It was the holiday party for the school and the torrential rains kept us in the classrooms. The 2 1/2 year olds lined up to sing Jingle Bells and Twinkle, Twinkle Hanukkah lights. Adorable (and I'll post the videos tomorrow). And then, the big moment when Santa would come. A ho, ho, ho from the hallway and in walks a white-bearded, jovial red coated Santa. And the moment Ariel lays eyes on him, she screams, turns into her teacher's chest and cries. Leading her friend Sivana to wail as well.
The school director quickly handed off the two screaming Jewish girls to us - their parents. It took me about 10 minutes to calm Ariel down. She didn't even want her present from the guy. Now, Ariel is terrified of anything in a costume. It made Halloween a bit tough. But I am pretty confident that she's sure she doesn't have any interest in Santa Claus and Hanukkah is a pretty cool holiday. I am sure that parents who celebrate Christmas most prepare their children to meet Santa and talk Santa up, but for me, I'm fine with Ariel not having any interest in Santa Claus.