A Jew, a Christian and a Christmas Tree

Charlie Brown Christmas treeA certain sad-sack once rescued a forlorn tree from certain Christmas oblivion, giving it a home and a single ornament to call its own.  When Charlie Brown saw that sad, lonely tree, it spoke to him and he knew it was meant to be.

This year, a tree spoke to my husband.  Just like that.  Only different.

As we and our two boys wandered onto the tree lot, bundled up against the cold, Gabe came to a standstill right in front of a 10-foot tall behemoth — a well-placed street light causing heavenly rays of light to beam down upon it.  This King of the Lot spoke telepathically to the Master of the House, saying something only the man and the wood will ever know.

And then the Master of the House spoke back.

Tall Christmas trees, choosing a tree, Chrismukkah, Christmas“I want this one,” Gabe said.

I threw my head back and laughed.  Then I noticed his serious face and gave him that look that says, “Bless your Jewish heart.”

“Honey, this tree is way way too big,” I said, gently pulling the boys towards the grove of 8-foot trees, hoping he’d follow.

“No, it’s not.  The ceilings in our new house are 12 feet high.  This one is perfect.”

I glanced back.  In the light streaming from the street lamp beyond, he and the tree had fused into one eery creature.

A man and his Christmas tree“Sweetheart, it’s too big,”  I said, hopefully.  “Let’s look at these 8-foot ones.  They’re perfect.”

He was shaken a bit but still — he would not be the master of an unworthy 8-foot tree.

“Excuse me, sir,” Gabe said to the manager of the lot.  “Do you have any 9-foot trees?”

“Why, yessir, right back here.”

He led us to the back of the lot and waved his hand over a pile of trees, branches still bound in netting.

Gabe stood one up and appraised it.  “What about this one?”

“Well,” I said, “it MIGHT be lovely but it’s impossible for me to tell.  It’s still got the netting on it and even if he cut if off, the limbs wouldn’t have fallen out yet so I can’t tell if it has any holes.”

“What holes?”

“Holes, like gaps in the branches.  Oh never mind.  Just trust me — I’ve been doing this my whole life.”

Forgotten, the children chased each other around a nearby tree.

young kids choosing a christmas treeGabe dropped the 9-footer, put his hands on his hips.

“Well, what do I know, with all my Jewish tree-buying experience?  I guess since you’re Christian, we should just get the tree you pick out and be done with this.”

“Gah, whatever!  Just get this one!”  I threw my hands up, and as is my nature, began to walk away.

And then a voice interrupted us.

“Guys!  Mommy’s fussing at daddy.  Daddy’s fussing at mommy.  Everybody stop fussing and let’s get a Christmas tree,” said Asher, 6.

Our eyes met, Gabe’s and mine, and there was momentary shame in them, and then mirth.  How silly we were being.

When we decided to get married all those years ago, we knew there’d be many compromises to make along the way.  We also trusted ourselves, and the family we’d become, to make them never SEEM like compromises.  And this is why we celebrate the long season of Chrismukkah — really less a blended holiday for us than a celebration of both.  Instead of laying a path out for our children (that they won’t take anyway), we’ve pledged to show them both paths – and even other paths – and let them choose their ways.

Asher, Meyer and I convened in the grove of 8-foot trees and decided to surprise Gabe with the one he wanted.  The ceilings in our new house are very high, maybe we could make it work.

The monster came home with us.  Just getting it into the house was a Goliath struggle.  With our sap-covered hands, we slowly pushed the tree to its full height and stepped back.  Several inches at the top bent sideways against the ceiling.

I looked at Gabe, struggling to keep Mrs. Judgy McJudgerson inside her cage.  He offered me a dramatic bow of the head and slump of the shoulders.

Just then a knock on the front door signaled the arrival of Asher’s playdate from his new school.  I dashed for the bedroom in pajamas and unwashed hair while Gabe, eager to meet potential new friends, answered the door.  I heard stomping as the boys ran down the hallway towards the playroom and then in muffled tones through the bedroom door, Gabe’s eager, polite chat with the boy’s mom and dad.  Then…a loud thud.

Christmas tree fell down, Chrismukkah, I told you so“Oops,” Gabe said, a little embarrassed.  “Guess I need to go take care of that.”

We met in the living room over the felled tree, a perfume of frasier fir and humility in the air.

“Honey, it’s time,” I said.  And we shook our heads in the same manner, but with different meanings.

Gabe dialed the tree lot.

“Hi, I was there last night and I wanted the big tree and my wife said it was too big and…”  Quiet on his end of the line.  “Yep, she was right.”  Silence.  “It broke the tree stand.”  A lull.  “Thank you.  I’ll bring it back now.”

The 10-foot tree went back and an 8-foot tree took its place.  It’s a beautiful tree and Gabe is fond of working late at night in the living room with the twinkling of its lights lending a calming atmosphere to his late hours.

I don’t say “I told you so.”  I just laugh.  And so does he.  We’ve found that the most important thing in our marriage  — maybe any marriage — is a healthy dose of humor.  Even if it sometimes takes a child to remind us.


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  1. Hilarious! And I love any story where the moral is the wife is right!

  2. Inappropriate, but your husband is a fox.

  3. Funny story, but a sad one as well. Neither of you really understands or cares about Christianity or Judaism! Why you try to bother celebrating a combined holiday is beyond my understanding. I. feel particularly bad for your children!!!!

  4. Why? Because they have two loving parents who want to shared their combined cultures with their children?

  5. Forget TR’s comment- which makes no sense since none of this is sad. And I don’t understand how one extrapolates your understanding of either holiday by the simple shopping for an appropriate tree.
    Just about couple has a tree story- I love this one!
    And bless your hubs for wanting that behemoth of a tree.
    I’m in love with the picture of the tree on the floor.

  6. TR…how is it sad to expose your children to many different belief systems? How is that bad in any way? How is it bad to let them choose their own way, be it Christian, Jew, Hindu, Wiccan, atheist, whatever? I feel particularly bad for you for being so narrow-minded. And? Just so you know, a tree is a pagan symbol, as Christmas is a pagan holiday.

    Toulouse, cheers to another brilliant, hilarious article. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for raising your kids to be thinkers, and not afraid to tell you when you are screwing up. A job well done!!!

  7. What?? How is this story sad in any way? What does the story have to do with religion either? The only real mention was that they were combining to give their children exposure to both faiths. I think that is beautiful, and last time I checked many Christian/Jewish marriages do that for their children.

    I think they understand far more about Christianity and Judaism than you do. They remember compassion and teaching. I think their children are blessed.

  8. What?? How is this story sad in any way? What does the story have to do with religion either? The only real mention was that they were combining to give their children exposure to both faiths. I think that is beautiful, and last time I checked many Christian/Jewish marriages do that for their children.

    I think they understand far more about Christianity and Judaism than you do. They remember compassion and teaching. I think their children are blessed.

  9. JanuaryMomma says:

    Wow. I feel sad for you. This is no longer 1800-anything. Chrisitianity and Judaism actually have many parallels and there is no reason why the birth of Christ cannot be celebrated in multiple ways. I do not see what the problem is in taking an entire month to celebrate the birth of a very special baby and man, for without him our world would be totally different.
    Kudos to families who have different backgrounds and traditions and are adult enough to not only understand the differences but also EMBRACE the challenges of incorporating both into their one family.

    Hope you all have a very Happy and Blessed Chrismukkah!

  10. Sure, because embracing and celebrating the cultural heritage of both parents will mess up the kids for life. I see years of therapy ahead for those poor kids. (Watch out, in case the sarcasm slaps right over the back of your head.)

  11. I love this story. I think it is so awesome to raise your children with such wisdom. Kudos and thanks for sharing! Oh, and disregard the comment from that twatwaffle who obviously has a pine cone up their ass. The only thing “sad” is TR’s perspective.

  12. I’m Jewish – Orthodox Jewish at that – and I need to stand up and yell from the rooftops that the only sad thing about this post is the comment by TR. The fact that you are showing your kids both faiths and etching them tolerance, acceptance and love along the way is an exquisite message. Through the two if you, they will grow up learning, by example, that true love finds a way and that there can sometimes be two rights and no wrongs. Wishing you a very happy and love-filled Christmas, Channukah and anything else you may want to celebrate… Regardless of what closed-minded people want to shame you into. Xoxo

    Before I go, I want to add that this piece really warmed my heart. You guys are BEAUTIFUL.

  13. Don’t be silly. I’ve learned about various faiths, participated in their celebrations and ceremonies, and it’s done nothing short of enhance my own relationship with Christ. It’s given me, and my children, nothing but the benefit of empathy and the sense that the world, God’s world, is a place so much larger than I’m capable of comprehending. I feel particularly bad for you.

  14. This is fun and warms my cold heart cockles. Great bit, TNT!

  15. Ha! Awesome. Fortunately, I only have one tree in the attic to choose from. Makes things much easier, if much less entertaining. Happy Christmukah!!

  16. You can return a tree that’s the wrong size, just like a sweater? Who knew?!


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