When I was a kid, I knew Christmas as the otherDecember celebration.
I spent most of my secular Jewish childhood in a heavily Jewish Chicago suburb. Of course, there were still the Christmas commercials, Christmas specials, and Christmas songs at school, but our family celebrated Hanukkah. Our eight-night “Jewish Christmas” had its own miraculousbackstory. My Gentile classmates had only one day of presents to anticipate during December. I felt pretty lucky to have eight nights of gifts (even if, by the end of the celebration, I was opening gifts like pajamas and underwear).
After I came to faith in Jesus in my mid-teens, my parents forbade me from attending church as long as I was living under their roof. I felt the ban most acutely during December. It seemed that just about everyone else was having a holly jolly Christmas. Even the Grinch got to make his way down to Whoville to crash the party, while I had to spend my first few Christmases as a follower of the Bethlehem-born Baby King alone in my bedroom, reading my Bible and listening to carols on the radio. I suffered a sense of deprivation mixed with teenage angst. [Read more]