The Christmas Tree

IMG_0283We have a Christmas tree. Just saying that sounds weird.

My sister disapproved.

My parents will disapprove when they read this.

I’m Jewish. We’re Jewish. Christmas isn’t our holiday. And yet, over the course of the year, there’s no more good spirited time than Christmas.

IMAG0302-w1400-h1400Christmas is unavoidable. And who wouldn’t want to embrace its warm, family oriented feel? So, after a quarter century of kvetching from my wife and daughter, I acquiesced.

Stef has given me permission to make her the heavy here.

“Write you did it because of me,” she said.

I did it because of Stef.

IMAG0304-w1400-h1400We drove to Johnson Brothers Christmas Tree Lot on Jeffrey Road. We were foreigners in a foreign land.

“We’ve never had a tree before,” Helaine told the guy helping us. “We’re Jewish,” she added¹.

I don’t think he had a snappy retort for that.

Helaine and Stef figured a five footer would be enough. One called out to me. It was five foot six. A noble fir.

“Too wide,” Stef said, but it was too late. Decision of the father is final. And, as it turned out, it fits just fine upstairs in the loft.

There’s an ornament for each of us and some small, white lights. We’re not going nuts.

To my Christian friends, thanks for letting us participate.

To my Jewish friends, cut us some slack.

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¹ – We had a coupon. We didn’t pay retail. Some things are sacred.

34 Responses to “The Christmas Tree”

  1. Beth says:

    It’s beautiful! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah…

  2. Aimee says:

    I think it’s a sweet sentiment. Good job, Foxes!!

  3. Sharon G. says:

    The Christmas spirit should belong to everyone…welcome and enjoy! Your first tree is beautiful; your ornaments are adorable!

  4. Priscilla says:

    I love it! And who cares what anyone thinks-I always wondered how kids who don’t celebrate feel about skipping the non religious part of Christmas…you don’t need to be a Christian to spend time with family, be giving and have fun! I know many jewish people who have trees

  5. Priscilla says:

    oh and Happy Hannakuh!!!!

  6. meredith says:

    The “Christmas” tree is a co-opted Pagan ritual that’s no more Christian than you are, when you get right down to it. Anyone who wants to put a tree in their home and decorate it at this time of year should do so without remorse. The Winter Solstice is the real reason for the season, anyway. Enjoy!!

  7. Sheryl Rosen says:

    Call it a Chanukah bush and don’t sweat it. G-d knows who you are and more importantly, what’s in your heart. Having a decorated pine tree in the house in December doesn’t make you less Jewish just as it doesn’t make someone more Christian. It’s what’s in your heart that makes you what you are.

    Hope Doppler and Roxie don’t do what comes naturally for dogs and trees!! LOL

    Hope you had a happy Chanukah and a joyous season!!

  8. Ann says:

    The Christmas tree symbolizes life and resurrection. It is the perfect symbol of your new home in CA. Enjoy in good health!

  9. Evi says:

    Hi, Geoff, Helaine and Stef,
    Tell your family that BECAUSE of your wonderful family and traditions, you feel comfortable enough to enjoy your tree! It’s love, it’s family, it’s lights, warmth and friendship. (Sounds a little like Hanukkah !!). We’re a family of Irish Catholics but if you walk in our front door, you will find our mezuzah from Israel proudly displayed. My husband and adult sons have volunteered as security for our local synagogue when some of the congregation there were concerned about safety after 9/11. We acknowledge our differences but adore our similarities. A student once gave my mom a dreidel and she came home and placed it in the Christmas manger so the child Jesus would have a toy. To this day, my kids will still spin it and know the symbols. So happy to have you sharing our holiday and thankful you let us share yours! <3. Evi

  10. Carlene says:

    A new home town, catch up time with Stef and your first Christmas tree. It’s all good!! By the way, that’s a beautiful picture of Stef with Doppler and Santa.

  11. Marie DeChello says:

    Geoff, There are many Jewish families who put up christmas trees don’t feel guilty
    it’s a very happy and festive time of the year. Remember Jesus was Jewish. Mention that to your sister.

  12. Deb in QH says:

    IMHO, a manger celebrates the religious aspect of Christmas – a tree, lights, presents, Santa and all that are (or at least have become) more a celebration of the economic aspect. Think how many MORE people would be out of work if not for all the holiday shopping. You’re just doing your part for the economy. Now go out and buy more ornaments – your tree looks a little naked. :)

  13. Shirl says:

    Welcome to Christmas! Very cute ornaments…wasn’t too hard to know which one is yours! Good choice. :)

  14. Donna Goulette says:

    A True American tradition, no matter what your religious beliefs. Good for the Fox family…Happy Holidays

  15. Cindy from Brooklyn, CT says:

    Beautiful! I have quite a few atheist friends (as well as non-Christians of other faiths) who celebrate Christmas. One of my atheist friends also loves nativity sets and puts a few them out. I asked her one time about it and her reply was that she like the STORY of Jesus just as much as the story about SANTA so she celebrates the good message of the story. Bottom line is that decorated trees with lights are just so darned pretty why shouldn’t everybody have the chance to enjoy them?

  16. Cindy says:

    Not bad Geoff for your first tree my friend Felicia who was Jewish would get a “Haunukkah bush” aka tree and used blue lights on it would put some ornaments on mostly snowflakes snowmen and non Santa type ones she also put Haunukkah (forgive me if I have mid spelled ). Items as well it was very lovely actually. I hope you enjoy it it’s nice lighting at the very least ! :-)

  17. Robert ~West Haven~ says:

    Yes i agree it’s just a Hanukkah bush. It’s nice to trim a tree with whatever you want. A happy time of year.

  18. Carole says:

    If I had your address, I would send you a bunch of Christmas tree ornaments. We can no longer put a tree up because of our cats. They would have the balls on the floor, playing with them. Our one cat would probably be climbing it. I’m glad you have 2 dogs that obeys you and doesn’t cause problems with your Christmas tree.

  19. Roberta Giordano says:

    Geoff my pain management Dr is Jewish. They put up a tree every year. They celebrate Hanauka but he says his wife him and the kids all like putting tree up and decorating so that’s what they do. I think it’s great, they celebrate their hiday but they are honoring another holiday.

  20. Judy says:

    I think it’s awesome you and the family put up a tree! It is your tree and you can make it represent anything you want. After all, many of the traditions at this time of year are a combination of many different beliefs and ideas from the past, so why not? It is fun and festive, and you can decorate it with sentimental and personal items that represent your family life and traditions. Happy Holidays!

  21. Pam says:

    Geoff That really is a Beautiful tree. Are friends and many others that are jewish have trees. I’m not jewish. I’m glad you will enjoy the beauty of a tree. Welcome to Christmas. I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and also Happy Hanukkah

  22. Tammi says:

    Enjoy your tree my friend. As stated earlier the tree was a pagan tradition brought over to christmas time. Christmas time is a happy infectious time of year. Many of my Jewish friends put up trees and wreaths. Have a happy holiday season. Peace

  23. Barb B says:

    Geoff,
    It looks great, but a little naked. That looked like a fairly normal lot—when I was out there, there used to be real trees, flocked with artificial snow, and some of them were colored in pastel pinks and blues. I think I bought a snow flocked one—just to remind me of CT. Right now, you can take our weather–brrr.
    Give me your address and I’ll send you some wooden ornaments carved out of the trunks of old, discarded trees. They are plain and simple and fit all religions.
    I say Hurray! You are in a new home, and a new life–enjoy the holiday and all that it represents—Love for all peoples and Peace on Earth!

  24. Barb B says:

    PS–don’t forget to add water. Hopefully they made a new cut in the trunk before you took it off the lot. It will drink up a lot of water the first few days, then taper off. If your house is cool, it should last you for the 12 days of Christmas—(til Jan.6th)

  25. Lori says:

    A Christmas tree really brightens up the cold dark days of winter…oh, that’s right, you’re in CA now. Just enjoy your tree. If it makes you happy, go for it!

  26. Debbie Z says:

    I’m always upset when people take the lights/trees down so early. It brightens up the dreary winter nights driving home from work. Make it a Fox family tree. For the holidays – Jewish, Christian, pagan, made up. I always tell my boss we can’t take down the office tree until January 7th at the earliest. Drives him nuts – makes my coming in at 0-dark-30 more bearable. It is a beautiful site to see the tree lit (it’s on a timer) in the dark office. Always extra gloomy the first day after it’s down.

    Enjoy your tree and ignore anyone who says you shouldn’t have it.

  27. Cindy Moskey says:

    Great idea….and what family fun! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanauka!
    California seems to be agreeing with the Fox’s! We do miss you here Geoff….lots of weather early this year..no school today!

  28. Terri Frolich says:

    I Love the irony of you & yours getting your 1st Christmas tree not in New England but during your first December in California !! :) Enjoy every Holiday always …

  29. Lorraine says:

    AWESOME!!!!! I love it it’s beautiful. You do what’s in your heart. Enjoy!!!! Happy Hannakuh!!!!

  30. Candy Egan Perri says:

    Your Tree is beautiful.
    An open mind can open your heart
    It’s a time to reflect and a time for renewal
    And all that really matters is peace on earth
    And to be kind to all living things.
    Enjoy the season.

  31. Dawn says:

    AHHHH Merry Christma-ka love it :)

  32. Phil says:

    Tree looks great, Geoff. One suggestion – be sure to keep your new friend watered. Figure at least a half-gallon a day. It’s pretty easy for a tree to dry out and present a fire hazard.

  33. for the full experience, you need to turn out all the lights, and put on some christmas music. it’s kinda like smoking a joint and listening to Dark Side of The Moon.

    or not.

    to be honest, I’m surprised this is the first time you’ve tried a christmas tree. please post again when it’s time to take it down and dispose of it, another ritual you’ll find interesting.

  34. Sharon in New Milford, CT says:

    Geoff,

    If joy comes with a tree than a tree it shall be.

    Happy holidays to you and yours. :)

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