When I was growing up in Mexico City, Christmas was everywhere come December. People were never afraid to wish even strangers a Merry Christmas; and oh yes, they used the proper term: Christmas, not some generic "holiday."
Growing up Jewish was never a problem in Mexico, except around this time of year, when some of the members of the tribe felt totally left out.
I am the youngest of seven kids. The oldest was 23 and the youngest 14 by the time I came into the picture. When my parents' first six kids were little, Santa didn't come to our house, so they grew up believing he was a bigot!
So when I was a child my mother had had plenty of time to think things over, and as soon as I was old enough, she told me the truth about Santa Claus. I am now going to share with you her clever explanation:
Santa Claus is Jewish! His real name is Chris Kringleman. Because he is Jewish, he doesn't mind working on Christmas, and that's also why one of his reindeer is named Blitzen!
Santa Claus is a very kind, sweet, magical being that keeps an eye on every kid in the world, and when children are good, he rewards them by bringing those toys and special gifts on the kids' particular special holiday, such as Christmas, or in my case, Hannukah!
My mother had an answer for everything. I remember one year when I was about 7, I came home very upset saying "Mamita, Zuraya told me she saw her father putting her toys under their tree; she says parents bring the toys and not Santa!" My mom had a very serious look as she replied: "That's true in the case of Zuraya. We really should be very sorry for her; she's been such a nutty girl, Santa doesn't bring her anything, her daddy feels sorry for her, and so he buys her the toys."
Well, that made a lot of sense to me, and gave me a few more years of magic!
I will always be grateful to my mother and father for allowing me to enjoy some of the season's magic, and not feel left out at this special time. It also gave me an incentive to do well in school and do my chores at home, just in case Santa or one of his helpers was watching! Besides, "it's not our holiday" is not much consolation to a child who is watching almost every other kid open the treasures that came all the way from the North Pole.
So my LatinoLA friends, here is something to think about: why not let your children have a little magic in their life? Kids grow up too fast as it is! Let them believe and be enchanted; don't get caught up in the political correctness of our time...who knows, maybe Santa will leave you a little something under the tree!
Edie J. Adler:
Edie J. Adler is a writer and comedianne and regular contributor to LatinoLA. She lives in the San Fernando Valley with her husband Neal, her mother and three dogs, four parrots and four and a half cats.