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Dan Zevin

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Why It's Wrong For Jews To Have Christmas Trees

Posted: 12/28/11 04:46 PM ET

It's wrong for Jews to have Christmas trees because they will be punished by God when they drive to the mall with the tree strapped to the top of their minivan. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about here.

I committed the sin of the Christmas tree this weekend, just as I have every December since marrying my lovely shiksa decades ago. For the first few years, it was all fun and games. I'd put a bagel on top instead of a star, or a star of David instead of a star of ... What is the gentile star called? Do gentile stars even have a name? I'm just going to call it the star of Christ for our purposes. One year before we had kids, not only did I remove the Star of Christ from our tree, but I replaced it with a decorative bagel upon which I inscribed an inspirational holiday message: "Jews Kick Ass." Back then, I was all ha-ha-ha about ho-ho-ho. Now I know the truth. For Jews, getting a Christmas tree is like cheating on your taxes. Year after year, it's possible there will be no repercussions. Then, boom, one day you get audited.

I got audited this weekend. What happened was, the whole family drove over to the VFW parking lot and picked out a tree. One of the many veterans (I'm guessing they were veterans) working there strapped it to the roof of the minivan. We all got back into the car, and just as I was about to drive us home to decorate the tree with all the ornaments (and bagels) we've collected through the years, Megan leaned over and whispered to me, "Let's go get the rug."

She is very obsessed with getting a rug for the living room by the time her parents come for Christmas. Her parents' visits always provide a furniture deadline for her. It's good and bad. Good because if her parents never visited, we'd probably still be using milk crates as tables (and chairs). Bad because going rug shopping at the Westchester Mall with two kids who thought they were about to decorate a Christmas tree is just a very, very bad plan.

"Hey kids! Wanna watch Kung Fu Panda?" I asked.

Keeping a portable DVD player in the minivan is the smartest thing I ever did that I promised myself I'd never do. By the time we got to the mall, they'd completely forgotten we bought a Christmas tree only 25 minutes earlier.

And so did I. Which is why I say this to all Christmas Tree Jews: When you least expect it, expect to be punished by God. Upon entering the Westchester Mall's serpentine indoor parking lot, we spent the next 15 to 1,000 minutes driving farther and farther up the never-ending spiral ramp in search of a parking spot. As we drove higher and higher, the ceilings got lower and lower. And as the ceilings got lower and lower, the scraping sound got louder and louder.

"Do you hear a scraping sound?" I asked Megan.

"Oh my God, it must be the Christmas tree scraping against the ceiling," she replied, accurately. We'd forgotten it was there. And as I tried to make a U-Turn and head back down the ramp to a low-altitude, high-ceiling zone in which to park the minivan, the next sound we would be hearing was an alarm. Followed by a massive, gushing torrent of water shooting straight down onto the roof of the minivan (i.e., onto the Christmas tree). The tree hit an emergency fire sprinkler.

I pulled into a small spot in the parking lot reserved for handicapped plates, setting off another sprinkler or two on the way. Now the kids were getting nervous, proving that even the portable DVD player in the car can not keep them completely detached and silent forever. Which is why I'm totally getting the built-in kind next week.

"Don't panic! Just watch Kung Fu Panda!" I screamed at them. "Do not panic! STOP PANICKING!"

Megan calmed them down as I exited the vehicle and crawled on the roof of the car to drag the Christmas tree off of it. Wedged between the tree and the ceiling, I'd estimate that there was about one inch of head-space before I would become decapitated. I used my car key to cut the string. The tree was pretty well stuck between the roof of the car and the ceiling, but I finally managed to drag it off the car. Then it fell onto the soaking wet floor of the lot. Did you know that the water that shoots out of emergency ceiling sprinklers is rusty and brown? Observe:

Figure A: Minivan roof after being punished by God

Then a Lexus started honking at me because I was now blocking traffic. Asshole.

After moving the kids' car seats up as far as they could possibly go before their faces would be flattened against the back of the driver's and passenger's seat, Megan and I hoisted the tree inside the minivan. I shut the trunk, taking off a few branches in the process, and we got the hell out of there before the security staff ever had time to show up and arrest us.

"But we're still going inside to look for rugs, though, right?" Megan asked.

"Are you serious? Look at us, we're soaking wet."

"But we're here."

Yes, we went rug shopping. No, we didn't find a rug. But the tree looked pretty good once we got home and decorated it. Until it came crashing down. You think I'm kidding? I have half a glass snowman embedded in my palm. It's like a shrapnel wound. When it heals, I will have a scar; a permanent reminder that Christmas trees are not meant for my people.

Next year, we get a fake one, like any real Jew would have done in the first place.

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