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My First Christmas I was raised in a mostly secular Jewish household.

We did the bare minimum when louis vuitton apache briefcase it came to celebrating Jewish holidays. Come Christmas time, for the first decade of my life, my mother's parents refugees from Germany who took a strict "No one can know we're Jewish" stance upon immigrating to America would send presents that my brothers and I would open on December 25th. Later in life, after my grandmother passed and the presents stopped, December 25th became Shwayder Family Community Service Day. That was mostly the extent of it. We didn't have a tree, although some years I would go across the street to help our Baptist neighbors decorate theirs. There was no family dinner outside of what we did every night. My idea of what a nativity play consists of came mostly from repeated viewings of "Love Actually." However this year was different from every other year. This year I got a straight up invitation (in July, no less) to come spend an actual Christmas with an actual Christmas celebrating family in Bremen. There would be a tree. There would be Christmas music. There would be food. There would be a family playing board games. And of course, a trip to church to see a nativity play. Now, vaguely religious family gatherings where participants eat lots of food and exchange parcels of new toys are something secular louis vuitton ankle bracelet Jews have been doing since time rather memorial. And since I am in Europe I could be assured this Christmas wouldn't be too Jesus y (the degree of Jesusness of any American celebration is very, very variable depending on your region of the country), I knew I wouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable or forced to convert (again, not a given in America). So I could be assured there would be no huge culture shock. But some things I louis vuitton shoes review did find surprising: Decorating the tree took a long. time. Like, three or four hours. Granted the family I stayed with had a fairly large tree, but with three of us working on the damn bush I was still expecting this particular activity to be checked off in an hour, perhaps an hour and a half at most. Germans put real candles on their trees. Not strings of plastic, short circuited lights that take six hours to untangle (something to which I was secretly looking forward). In the US, putting even one uncovered, lit candle, in the branches of a drying out spruce tree inside a house would be possible grounds for immediate removal to an insane asylum (do those still exist?). But there we were, setting up and lighting not one, but 42 full blown candles in the bows of our Tannenbaum. I was flabbergasted. Nativity plays are longer than I thought! The one louis vuitton alma haut we saw lasted a bit more than an hour. I literally thought the whole thing was just a bunch of kids in homemade costumes posing around a baby doll for a few minutes while their parents took pictures. And maybe sang a song or two. This production had lines and sets and costumes and songs and a rather humanoid donkey and two people in a camel costume. I'm just glad they left out the labor scene.

At the end of my stay, my friend's mother asked me "So, is Christmas very much like Hanukkah?" She didn't mean religiously of course. Most people don't know that Hanukkah is actually a very minor holiday. The principles of families coming together to eat food and celebrate each other's company and love are very much the same.


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