{ the tree }

{ I still remember }  being about five years old and not understanding why we didn't have a Christmas tree. My mother tried to explain it to me, but I wouldn't listen. I wanted to be like all my friends.

Finally she broke down and left two presents for my sister and I out on the fireplace on Christmas morning. It was a small concession to what popular culture had taught me to expect.

Years later, when my sister and I decorated one of the houseplants as a Christmas tree, my father would be less forgiving.

We are Jewish. We celebrate Chanukah, a miniscule holiday that never had anything to do with presents except for its close proximity to the day when a certain Jew was born to a virgin mother. And now, as a result, we have a month and a half of holiday ads and sales and muzak. Jesus would be proud.

Safe to say that by the time I was 19 in 1992, I was good and tired of explaining to the class what a Menorah is. But a lot had changed by then.

Barbara, for example.