Last night we went to my friend Lucy's house to trim her tree. Us Jews just love a good tree trimming. Her children are totally cynical about the tree -- they want it done, but they'd rather play the X-Box. Mine, on the other hand, were in Seventh Heaven. Even Abraham stopped whining for long enough to hang a little wooden sleigh on the very lowest bough.
The one time I had a non-Jewish roommate who wasn't going home for the holidays (crazy loft in Soho, crazy Australian roommate, crazy fight that had me packing up and leaving in the middle of the night) I insisted we get a tree. I had in my mind exactly what I wanted: full boughs, squat and not too tall, white lights, wooden ornaments, nothing too big or flashy. I'd thought it all through. In fact, I had the whole thing decorated when I was in fifth grade. I love Christmas trees, but I would never do a Hanukkah bush. Way too cheesy. Instead I just covet.
Nowadays I force my family and myself on our non-Jewish friends. We show up, ornaments in hand, and interject ourselves into their tree rituals. Of course no seems to have the kind of elaborate Brady-Bunch tree trimming ritual that I'd fantasized about my whole life. Nine times out of ten, it's mom trimming all by herself, with occasional shouts for a tall man to nail something to the ceiling. They generally don't object to our presence, because at least there's someone in the house excited about the process, even if those someones aren't relatives.
Now I just have to figure out a way to get us invited somewhere for an Easter egg hunt.