My 3-year-old daughter told me that she wants to dress up as Santa’s sleigh for Purim this year. I reminded her that a few months ago she said she wanted to be an ambulance, but she insists she wants to be Santa’s sleigh. She is obsessed with Christmas, and it’s almost March.
This was the first year that Charlotte really got Christmas as a holiday and the fact that we were not going to celebrate it. She asked a bunch of questions about Christmas, and I would tell her that we are Jewish and Christmas is a holiday that we don’t celebrate. In early December, she declared she did not want to be Jewish anymore, she wanted a Christmas tree. I let her know that we could enjoy other people’s Christmas trees and all the sparkly lights for the winter holiday season, but because we have a Jewish home, we won’t have a Christmas tree. Instead, we visited Uncle Mike and Aunt Kristina’s tree, had a holiday party with my mom’s side of the family, and talked a lot about religious identity.
As a side note, my mother is a Jew-by-choice. When she converted to Judaism 40ish years ago, she was all in, aside from giving up her Christmas tree. Growing up, we celebrated Shabbat most Friday evenings and certainly all the Jewish holidays, and we had a Christmas tree. My mom was finally ready to say goodbye to the tree when my dad joined the board of our synagogue and I was in my tweens. My sister is a rabbi and I am a Jewish professional, so the tree doesn’t seem to have negatively impacted our Jewish faith and practice. That being said, I didn’t mention to Charlotte that I had a tree when I was her age.
I’m not entirely sure how Charlotte’s intense obsession with Christmas developed. She goes to a wonderful Jewish day care, so she wasn’t bombarded with Christmas at school. We do live in America though, so it’s impossible to avoid the Christmas season altogether. To complicate matters, we do celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and all the Jewish holidays, so explaining how Christmas was different was certainly challenging, and I do not think I did the best job of articulating why. I also blame Curious George. Charlotte wants to watch his damn Christmas special on a daily basis.
I remember last year thinking it was cute that she wanted to read Halloween books well into March and her PJ Rosh Hashanah book in May. This year we started listening to our Hanukkah CD in the car in November and it’s still in heavy rotation. I finally broke down and bought the Frozen soundtrack so we could get a break from sivivone sof sof sof. Also, I was secretly hoping that I could trade in her Christmas and Santa obsession for an Elsa and Anna infatuation. While she can belt out “Let it Go” with the best of ‘em, she’s decidedly more into Sven and Kristof’s sleigh. She’s really into sleds. Perhaps her fascination is actually more with winter weather vehicles? She loves trucks, buses, taxis, and trains, so maybe this is just the next phase in her love of locomotion.
Having a 3 year-old makes me appreciate that the seasonality of holidays is very relative. What I find perplexing and somewhat disturbing are her childhood fixations on random things, which I guess is age-appropriate, but still.
I also feel conflicted on my role as a mom to support my daughter but also set some guidelines around appropriateness. My general mode is, unless it is dangerous, like running in the parking lot, I am in favor of letting Charlotte make a lot of her own decisions. I’m not necessarily into full-on free-range parenting, we do have a set bedtime routine, and we require she wears clothing, but for the most part, we support Charlotte’s sense of self as much as possible.
So yeah, Charlotte might be the gal dressed up as Santa’s Sleigh at the Purim carnival this year.