The suburb I grew up in was 40% Jewish. I was a Methodist. Several of my Jewish friends had ‘holiday trees.’ My cousin married a Jewish man and they have a Christmas tree. I do hope Bill O’Reilly doesn’t read this. He doesn’t need any more ammunition for his ‘war on Christmas” schtick. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

My friend Diane’s family had a holiday tree and probably the fanciest living room I’d ever seen. We high school kids weren’t allowed to hang out there. It had white carpet, white drapes and white furniture. It was very formal. At the holidays they had a white flocked tree with white lights and blue ornaments. I asked Diane why they had a tree if they were Jewish. She answered, “I think it’s part of the whole holiday decorating deal.” When I asked why the ornaments were all blue she shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Maybe because blue is the color of the Israeli flag?” Even then, I liked answers with a certain amount of logic so I bought that line.

My family’s tree was green with fat, multicolored bulbs and a strange assortment of ornaments. The biggest debate over our tree occurred when flashing lights were introduced. My dad loved them and my mom, sister and I did not. We’d unscrew the bulb that made them blink when dad was out of the room. We had to fess up when he threatened to dismantle the tree and return the lights as defective. He thought the flashing lights were wonderful and none of the rest of us wanted a disco tree. In a rare example of majority rule, the women won that one.

A couple of weeks after I saw Diane’s holiday tree, I was at my friend Sue’s house. Her dad was a Rabbi. In grade school I took the bus to Talmud Torah school with Sue because her dad was great storyteller. I’d known Sue and her family through grade school and high school. This year they had a small potted pine tree with little white lights and blue ornaments. I remarked on their tree which was a new addition. I was incredibly naive at 15 and just remarked, “Oh, do all Jewish holiday trees have blue balls? Diane’s tree has blue balls too.”

After Sue’s Dad stopped laughing, he said he had no idea if there was a kosher way to decorate a tree and maybe the blue was a coincidence.

Having a holiday tree is not the first step to conversion. Just saying.