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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: Open Door
By Joanne Sher


"What is that?" I wasn't sure if Jerry was shocked or angry.

My eyes followed his finger into the living room. "That's our Hanukkah bush."

"Your what?" Jerry scrunched up his eyebrows. "Looks like a Christmas tree, Marcey. I thought you guys were Jewish."

"We are." I glanced over at the white-flocked Christmas tree, covered with blue decorations. "It's a compromise."

"A compromise?" Jerry sounded dumbfounded.

"Yeah, you know. We're Jewish, my step mom, Don, and Jim were raised Christian. A holiday compromise."

"Uh...okay. So you guys celebrate Christmas too?"

"Oh, no. We only celebrate Hanukkah." I paused a second. "Actually, Don and Jim still do Christmas, but not with us. Mom converted to Judaism when she married my dad."

He nodded slowly, and then pointed toward the mantle. "And those are...?"

I smiled. "Hanukkah stockings. More compromise, and it's cool."

"Okay. So how do you celebrate? Do you mix other Christmas stuff in?"

"Oh, no. We celebrate Hanukkah for sure. No Santa or anything-we do the menorah and dreidel and everything. Don and Jim get their presents mostly at Christmas, but all the rest is Hanukkah stuff."

"So they don't mean anything? The tree and the stockings are just decoration?"

I nod. "Just decorations. How we work Mom, Don, and Jim's traditions into our family. The important part is the menorah, the prayers, and the presents and stuff."

"So it doesn't bother your dad that these are Christmas symbols, and you guys are Jewish?"

I thought for a minute. "I think it bothered him in the beginning, but like I said, it was a compromise. I don't think he minds it anymore."

He nodded. But his question made me wonder.



"As a Christian, does it bother you?"

"I don't think so. It just seems weird is all." He bit his lip. "It's not like Christmas trees and stockings are what Christmas is really about."

Now I was confused. "They aren't? That stuff and Santa is all I ever hear about."

Jerry chuckled. "As you would say, they're just decoration. Christmas is about Jesus' birth 2000 years ago."

"So it's a big birthday party?"

"I suppose--in a way. But we believe that Jesus is the Messiah--the Savior of the World. So it's more than cake and ice cream."

"I didn't know Christians believed in the Messiah. And you believe He already came?"

Jerry nodded. "Did you know that the word 'Christ' is actually the Greek word for Messiah?"


"Really. We read the same Scripture that you do--we just have some other books too."

This piqued my curiosity. "But if you believe the Messiah has already come, why is the world still so terrible? The Messiah is supposed to bring the Kingdom of God, and peace and the destruction of our enemies."

Jerry breathed in deeply. "Scripture says that the Messiah would be rejected by His people, the Jews. Because it happened, the peace on earth was delayed."

My forehead started to redden. "So Jews killed the Messiah? It's our fault the world is a mess?"

"Um...I didn't say that. Just stating the facts."

"What facts? Your Bible?" I tried to control my tone of voice, but wasn't very successful.

"Well, actually, it's in yours. Isaiah talks about it a lot."

"Whatever. I just don't like the fact that you're accusing the Jews."

"Jesus was a Jew. And you are God's chosen people."

"Chosen for what? Anti-Semitism? For blame of killing the Messiah? For the Holocaust?"

Jerry put his hand on my shoulder. "God loves the Jews. He used you guys to reach the rest of the world."

I stepped away from his touch and glared. "Jerry, I think you should go."

He dropped his eyes. "All right. But will you at least think about what I said? And read Isaiah, especially chapter 53?"

I held the front door open. "I'll think about it."

Jerry shuffled toward the door.

I felt a twinge. "Jerry--I'm not really mad at you. I'm just irritated, and I don't want to talk about this anymore. I wanna be alone. I'm Jewish, okay? Don't try to change me."

He nodded as he walked out the door. "See you later, Marcey."

I closed the door behind him and walked back into the living room. I sat beside the Hanukkah bush and tried to cool down. Yet, the more that I looked at it, the more I thought about what Jerry said. About Christmas. About Jesus.

"Isaiah 53, eh?"

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This article has been read 1018 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Deborah Engle 10/16/08
Ilike this. It is a good approach to the topic and well done.
Seema Bagai 10/18/08
Great title. I like how the decorations led to a deeper conversation about the meaning of Christmas.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/19/08
You really did a great job here of making your reader think of the true meaning of Christmas, as well as excellently illustrating a Jewish celebration.
Yvonne Blake 10/19/08
Anyone who knows you would know it this is yours, but I love the development of thoughts. Great writing!
T. F. Chezum10/19/08
I like the way the conversation drifted toward the true meaning of Christmas and that the differing views weren't immediately resolved ... but you left the open door.
Chely Roach10/19/08
Ahh, Christmahanukkah, celebrated in suburbs all over our post modern society. Great social commentary, with realistic characters and dialogue. Very well done!
Sharlyn Guthrie10/19/08
Good use of conversation to tell this story and present your message. I really enjoyed reading this!
Ellen Dodson10/20/08
Great title for this piece! your first person point of view as a Jew is perfect because empathy helps us to evangelize. What a beautiful, honest act of love on Jerry's part. I wanted more clues as to Marcey's age. The language she used hinted that she's a teenager, but I wasn't sure. Very unique and important angle on this topic!! I especially appreciate Marcey's hurt and pride and her attempt to control both, as that's human nature, very realistic and one of the obstacles that both Jews and Christians must overcome.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge10/22/08
I know several Jewish-Christian families and could imagine your dialogue in their homes. Very real, very honest, and a great witnessing piece. I pray you can get this published outside of FWs. Blessings, Angel
Dee Yoder 10/22/08
Very realistic and I just have to say that the dialogue about the mixed holidays was funny, just the right hint of humor there to get your point across--but it lead to some serious thoughts and questions for the MC and that is, indeed, a powerful way to end this story! I'm finding out that getting someone to question why they believe what they do is an awesome witnessing tool.
Celeste Ammirata10/22/08
A very well written piece on how holidays are mixed up and changed for peoples convenience. I hope she reads that passage!
Beth LaBuff 10/22/08
*smile* -- I love the "Hanukkah bush". :) Your evangelistic message woven into the story is wonderful.
Karlene Jacobsen10/22/08
I like your style. Creative, fun, and though-provoking. Nice.
Leah Nichols 10/23/08
I talk like that, and I'm far from being a teenager! I thought this was very interesting and thought-provoking. I agree; trees and stockings are just decorations. The real meaning of Christmas goes beyond the decorations. Nice work!
Kingdom Citizen09/29/09
Amen...good piece of writing...Keep writing. God bless.