A Holiday Invitation

Butterfly Celebration Hand Painted Glass OrnamentIt is the season of bright lights and holiday cheer. The streets and buildings of New York City are sporting garland, twinkling lights, exotic window displays and Christmas trees of all sizes. Magazines feature Christmas decor and recipes and the Christmas specials are already on all the television channels.

It brings to mind my view of Christmas when I was a child. It was a wondrous celebration with the magic of Santa and reindeer, decorated trees and big, exciting gifts, but I was on the outside looking in. As a child in a Jewish family, I did not have a tree to decorate or Santa coming. Chanukah had to fill the gap, but a menorah and dreidels were not as exciting. The celebration was a small family gathering with token gifts exchanged. We watched “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, but they were about someone else’s exotic holiday.

Santa OrnamentMy glimpse into that other world came from my friend across the street and her generous family. Each Christmas, they put up a wonderful, big, Christmas tree in their living room. My friend’s mother would bring out the boxes of special ornaments that would be hung with great care by my friend, her brothers, her parents and me. I treasured the chance to choose from the wonderful antique glass fruit ornaments and decide what I would hand and on which branch. Not far from the tree stood the antique cradle in which the gifts were placed. For weeks before the holiday, we would carefully examine and gently shake my friends packages trying to guess the contents. Then came the special night. Christmas eve, her family, mine and several of the neighbors gathered around that beautiful tree, drank eggnog and exchanged gifts.

Handmade Wooden Stained Hanukkah MenorahIt has been many years since I shared those Christmas rituals with my friend. But this year, I felt that I was let into that world once again in the Handmade Artists’ forum. I was a Secret Santa and have had the fun of giving and seeing all the wonderful gifts. During the recent weeks, I have seen the lovely ornaments made by my fellow crafters. I treasure the traditions of Chanukah, the lighting of the candles, the dreidels and the latkes, but it has been nice to share in the excitement of Christmas! Lisa as a Child


Written by Uniqlets

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Posted in Handmade Holiday

11 Responses to “A Holiday Invitation”

  • chainmaille says:

    This story was too cute, thanks so much for sharing Lisa. I truly hope that all can come together for a moment to celebrate the holidays.

  • lisianblue says:

    Lisa, what a wonderful story! and oh what a nice surprise seeing my ( well, reflections) ornament at the top of the page! I have never experienced dreidels or latkes. NYC, I remember the Statue of Prometheus and thinking how fun it would be to go ice skating there! I had to google NYC decorations, wow! And then dreidel, there are some beautiful ones on JewishBazaar.com.
    BTW, Lisa was a fantastic Secret Santa!
    I luckily own a couple of the ornaments from my youth, 2 paper birds that my parents brought back from China Town in San Francisco (I think) they bring back happy memories. A couple of “disco ball” type ornaments, I can remember laying next to the tree, and twisting the string so they would twirl around! There is something special about unwrapping ornaments, especially ones that are a bit unique, they often bring back happy memories.
    Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas!

  • Fabulous read, and perfect for today, as I and my housemate are hauling out our tree and the decorations and putting them on the tree this evening.

  • Sewdifferent says:

    I grew up in a traditional catholic family but my best friend in High school was Jewish and her family often had me over. There I learned to love Briskett and about their Holy days traditions. I actually found those more meaningful. Still every time I get out my boxes of ornaments certain special ones remind me of places I have been and people I knew and I do love decorating a tree.

  • Uniqlets says:

    Thank you for the comments and your stories. I am so happy that this has sparked other people’s warm memories.

  • trusk4u says:

    Thank you for sharing this story with all of us! I grew up in a traditional Catholic family and everything was centered around that. We really didn’t get to experience anything else. As I grew up and saw more of the world, I’ve learned to appreciate and treasure traditions of others. It’s made my own little life richer. I wish for you a very Happy Chanukah and I am lucky to consider you a friend. :)

  • what a wonderful story…thank you for sharing it, and for bringing memories of our own Christmases to our minds. That’s the great thing about this site…

  • beadthing says:

    Thanks for this post Lisa. I never knew Jewish traditions until much later in my life but have come to respect and treasure traditions from many cultures other than my own. My tree is decorated with a mish mash of ornaments that I collected over the years and my little families tradition is to add a new ornament every year, which will all belong to Jaeden someday. I truly treasure you and all the other friends that I have made here at Handmande Artists, I will have memories of these friendships for the remainder of my life as we nuture them and they grow. Happy Chanukah to you and a Merry Christmas. May God bless you and your family and friends.

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