Santa! Santa! The name is joy itself to children all over America….
Except if they happen to be Jewish. Then, it’s a bit more problematic.
“I’m Jewish, but went to a church-run nursery school,” said Michelle Suconick, a 20-something publicist living in Brooklyn. “Our teacher would tell us stories about how Santa goes all over the world, delivering presents to kids everywhere, but I distinctly remember being distraught that he skipped my house.”
Puzzling over why that would be, the preschooler came up with the only obvious explanation: “Santa hates Jews.”
Yes, she pictured Santa right up there with Goebbels. So one wintry day, when her teacher announced that the jolly ol’ National Socialist would be visiting their class, Michelle went into pre-K panic. “He’s going to smell me and figure out I’m a Jew!” she remembered worrying. “He’s going to be so mad at me!”
“I can’t go to school today,” she told her mom. “Santa’s going to be there.’”
Mom replied: “He’s nice! He gives kids presents.”
“Not to us,” Michelle said, quivering.
Whereupon Mom had to tell her The Truth.
The Truth is not a minor thing for a child to learn; it’s a little like being entrusted with the biggest possible secret that you cannot possibly share: the location of a nuclear bomb, for instance, or Dad’s name before he entered the witness protection program. The Truth bestows upon children a sense of shame and superiority all wrapped up in — well, let’s not say a big red bow. Let’s say blue-and-white wrapping paper.