Innergiggler's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

THE FIRST TIME I SAW CHRISTMAS

By Linda Lichtman

Mom and I are off to a big girl day, even though I’m only five years old.  Excited I hold onto her hand with all my might because we’re walking across Brighton Beach Avenue to the “EL”.   It’s my first big train trip and I’m surprised by the huge number of people walking in every direction, bumping into each other and pretending they didn’t notice.  I can’t imagine where all these people could possibly live. Mom told me I’d been a worrier since birth.

We walk up the long stairs of the subway and mom tells me we’re standing in front of the biggest store in the world, Macy’s.  As we cross 34th Street, Mom puts her arms around me and directs me toward a booth behind which a man wearing a red and white striped hat and jacket is standing.  Mom softly directs him:

“Two hotdogs please.”

“Would you like mustard and relish on your dog, cutie?”

Mom quickly answers, “Mustard on mine and both for my daughter and a coca cola.”

Although it’s very cold, we remain outside of the frankfurter stand, chomping and drinking away.  I offer mom some of my drink but she shakes her head and makes a funny face, then continues sipping on her waxy cup of water.  She always says no to foods she thinks might make her fat.

After swallowing the last delicious bite, we wave to the hotdog man and walk inside the Macy’s store.   “Wow!  Look at all the beautiful lights – red, blue, pink, orange hanging all over the store.  Mom, I bet this is the happiest place in the world.  Is someone getting married?”

“No sweetheart, these decorations are for a holiday called Christmas – celebrated by non-Jews in honor of their Lord Jesus.”

I don’t understand the word “Lord” and am now confused, but then I remember dad telling mom something about our landlord who owns our building.   Now we’re walking past a display of a tiny family around a baby.  Mom pointed to it explaining “that” is Baby Jesus lying in his mother’s arms.  I think that’s very sweet, but I don’t understand why people are celebrating a little baby.

Once the elevator door opens to the second floor, I stop breathing.  I only have a few toys at home – games, dolls, but here – on the second floor of Macy’s – there must be a million toys.  If these are all for baby Jesus, I want to be his friend.  I want to go to his house, small as it was, and play with him every single day.  I will even change his diaper the way I’ve done for my little brother Mitchell.  Well, I don’t actually do the “change” but I help Mom so I know how.

“Mom, do all these toys belong to the Lord baby?”

“No.  Not really.  He gets them to children when they celebrate his birthday. “

“What people?”

“Christian people.  Non-Jews”

“I wanna celebrate baby Jesus! I wanna be a non-Jew.  I love baby Jesus!  Mom, who’s that big fat man?”

“That’s Santa Claus.  He lives in the North Pole and stops by every Christmas, bringing toys for certain children who had been very good.”

I stop and start thinking back over the week and ask:  “I was good Mom.  Wasn’t I good?”

“Yes, you were terrific.  Why don’t we get on that long Santa line so you can tell him what you’d like for Christmas. “

“And he’ll give me that present to take home?”

“Not today, but on Christmas morning.”

“Are we going to stop being Jewish?  Say yes mom, please!”

“Just for one day.  Santa makes an exception for Jewish children who were extremely helpful to their moms.”

Mom held my hand while we waited in line.  I watch Santa carefully as he holds babies, talks to kids, makes comments to parents, and then puts his arm out for the next in line.  Now I’m worried.  What if Santa doesn’t like me?  Should I tell him I’ve never been non- Jewish for Christmas before?  What should I ask for?  Am I allowed to ask for more than one thing, mom?”

“Did you ever meet Santa before?” She shakes her head no.

“What about daddy?  Does he know Santa? “

“Next in line.”

Mom pushes me toward Santa and he puts his arm around me, “Would you like to sit on my lap little girl?”

“No.  Mommy always tells me not to let strangers touch me.  And I have a question.  If I get non-Jewish for one day – will you bring me a present?”

“Of course”

“Even though I’ve never met baby Jesus?”

“Maybe you can meet him on Christmas morning.”

“Will you take me to his little teeny house?”

“No, you’ll have to ask your mommy to take you to visit him.  Now, what would you like me to bring you?”

“I would like my own room.  I sleep in the same room as my little brother and he’s always crying.   And also, could you get daddy a job during the day so mommy isn’t so lonely at night?”

“How about a nice new doll?” Santa spits through his beard.

“I already have a doll, thank you.”

“That’s very nice.”

Now Santa is waving for the next girl in line so I quickly grab his right thigh and slip in a request.

“How about some trains?  My brother and I would love to play with some choo choos.  Maybe one train could have a whistle.  And maybe some doll clothes and some money so my dad doesn’t have to drive a taxi all night to pay the rent.”

After finishing, I pause wondering if I’d asked for too much.

“Oh, I forgot something Santa.  Mom said to say thank you.”

Christmas Eve finally arrived.  Although I want to stay up all night to see if Santa had heard me, I’m just too sleepy.  But the next morning I wake up, run into the living room and I see a huge wooden crate filled with trains and tracks.  I think it’s strange that the trains didn’t come in a box and that there was nothing to unwrap.  But I’m so happy to have a train set, I hardly notice that the trains don’t look brand new.  Mitch and I are spending every day playing with are trains.  But I do feel a little disappointed that I didn’t actually get to meet baby Jesus.  Maybe next year.