Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Christmas Specials and Jewish Children

posted by Nell Minow

December is a long month for Jewish parents. From the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve, America is completely saturated with Christmas and it can be very difficult to explain to small children why Santa seems to come to every house but theirs. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick has a thoughtful essay on the fine distinctions drawn by some Jewish parents when it comes to cultural touchstones like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The semiotic lines parents draw between “The Grinch” (universally allowed) and “The Night Before Christmas” (not so much) are as much a reflection of the complex balance between making sure children do not feel like outcasts and preserving their cultural and religious identity as it is a reflection on the differences in the programs. Lithwick finds that the controlling principle seems to come down in favor of the programs watched by the parents when they were children, back when their own parents were faced with the same difficult choices.

  • Mother of 4 Girls

    I had to laugh when a Jewish friend told me that they celebrate Christmas. Celebrate = putting up a tree and buy presents. I would say that is a pagan ritual. Christians can ‘celebrate Christmas’ but, it’s really not celebrating anything but materialism if you celebrate it that way.
    I don’t know much about how to ‘celebrate Hannukah’ but I would not dare think of insulting the meaning of it by putting a menorah in my window and just buying gifts to put around it. Although my kids would probably like to get gifts for more than just one day.
    I was actually hoping that the economy would force people to stop and think about what they are celebrating. The many different ways God saves us… or how they can save a buck on an idol or two.
    Be grateful that there are not dozens of movies every year that portray your religious celebration as an invitation to stampede at Walmart.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. I agree with you that it is sad and disrespectful to see meaningful spiritual observance turned into a glut of buying opportunities and I really appreciate your respect for your own traditions and those of others.

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