To the editor: The author's implication is that the only valid holiday traditions are those explicitly prescribed by an ancient religious text. I don't believe the New Testament directs Christians to display decorated conifers in their homes. ("It's beginning to look a lot like 24 hours of freedom," Op-Ed, Dec. 22)
But that does not make these traditions any less meaningful and important to the families who have passed them down from generation to generation.
Hanukkah may not be biblically significant, but its traditions have brought my family together for decades. I actually loved playing dreidel as a child, and I learned many beautiful Hanukkah songs. Hanukkah reminds us not only of tale of a small jar of oil, but also of the determination of our ancestors who, faced with the option of assimilation or death, fought for their right — and our right — to practice Judaism.
Therefore, I proudly eat latkes on Hanukkah and, though I may not eat the Christmas ham, I do share in the generous spirit inspired by both holidays, which is something people of any religion can appreciate.
Beth Katz, Playa del Rey
To the editor: Growing up, I was taught that Christmas was not my holiday. That really did not bother me, since all of my friends were Jewish and I attended Fairfax High School in the 1950s, and there was nary a Christmas tree in sight.
But when I began to see Christmas trees in post offices and on other government properties, I was irritated. It finally occurred to me that many Americans see Christmas as a national holiday. I was annoyed by the National Christmas Tree, and a national menorah does nothing to sooth my irritation.
Now, I am much older and wiser, and I no longer care. Merry Christmas.
Phyllis H. Molloff, Fallbrook, Calif.
To the editor: Almost 70 years ago my siblings and I tried to convince our father to allow us to have a Christmas tree. We said, "It is a thing of beauty, not a religious symbol." Replied our wise father, "A thing of beauty is always beautiful; we'll get one in July."
We never did have a Christmas tree.
Murray S. Sperber, Los Angeles