Goodbye to My Jewish Christmas

MY favorite Christmas ornament was a white plastic globe, inside which a tiny Snoopy skis down a mini mountain, Woodstock looking on from his doghouse perch. I made sure it stayed front and center, despite my mother’s attempts to class up our tree with gold ribbons and Victorian bulbs. With a fire burning in the woodstove, John Denver and the Muppets warbling “Silent Night,” we could have been any American family.

We could have been, had my mother followed through on her abandonment of Judaism. Like many Jewish baby boomers, she grew up with a Judaism that was thick with rules but thin on meaning. Off at college—a luxury not

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