Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Friends

Living in Jerusalem, I most happily report the absence of Black Friday type sales and Christmas related mega-marketing.  When we visited the States, however, Raphaela had a very different experience of the holiday season.

Not a materialistic girl by nature, whatever store we entered, she immediately fell into the "Buy me/Get me" routine that I can remember from my own childhood.  I myself do not enjoy shopping per se, and so we entered as few stores as possible. And when we were besieged by Christmas paraphernalia, Raphaela would ask me, "Where is Santa?"

Allow me to explain:  both Dora the Explorer and Diego have holiday themed shows, which then get translated into Hebrew for the Israeli audience.  Halloween becomes Purim, and Christmas becomes Chanukah.  But for Raphaela, Santa does not represent Christmas, she does not even know or understand the meaning of the term;  the jolly old man dressed in red represents a friend of her friends -Dora and Diego - and he is a man who helps the animals and comforts people with presents of food and hugs.

My parents, who could not fathom why my daughter growing up in a Jewish country knew of Santa, cringed every time she mentioned him, and I continually explained the innocent context until they backed down.

Then I reminded them of this story from my youngest brother, who for some odd reason received a Santa Clause doll from one of our cousins: around Raphaela's age, my brother became so attached to the toy, that my parents could not take it away from him.  Instead, because of the white beard, my brother and I renamed the doll "Rabbi Santa," and it became a fixture in the toy chest for many years.

There is room for all this holiday season, and I would rather complain that Chanukah jelly doughnuts appear rather early in the Israeli supermarkets, as opposed to the crazed run-over-your-neighbor-for-an-xbox events in the American stores.

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