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Nobody has ever loved Christmas as much as my Jewish dad did.

I have known few people in my life who loved Christmas as much as my Jewish father did. I would never suggest that he married my Catholic mother just to get Christmas — she was very beautiful and they loved each other very much — but look, it was certainly a bonus. Once this Bar Mitzvah boy got his hooks into the yule log, he went wild.

Nowhere was this more pronounced than in our small family’s Christmas tree. His thing was to buy the tree the morning of Christmas Eve and get it in its stand. Until I was about nine, after saying goodnight to the various aunt Marys and uncles Jim and Ed, I would go to sleep with a bare tree behind me as I climbed the stairs to my bedroom. Only the next morning would I see it ablaze as if the living room were suddenly Times Square.

I’ll be honest, that was magic. And then my little brother was born. The next year, at age 10, I got to stay up and help decorate the tree for him. We enjoyed a long tin tube of eggnog next to the dull green bottle of Jameson. There were cookies and 950 AM played Bing Crosby, and I watched my dad trim the tree. He’d put small lights in the interior, layer of gold garland, beads vertically, layer of large lights. Layer of silver garland, specialty lights on the outside, ornaments.

Hanukah is fine, it really is. It’s lovely. But a few candles burning down can’t compete with a huge tree in your house wired to blow at any moment. It’s just a whole different level of holiday wow. I can’t actually explain why this Jewish kid from Asbury Park, New Jersey loved it so much, but I think it has to do with the universal nature of it. In places that have winter, you kind of need a big party.

Now, as I mentioned, my mom was Catholic — Irish Catholic, at that. The Christmas trees of my grandparents and great grandparents were hardly austere affairs. They were heavily lit and decorated. Trains whizzed beneath them. At Pop’s there was even lead tinsel and low visibility in the kitchen as the aunts and uncles drank their tea, sometimes sending me to the store to buy more cigarettes for them. It’s a wonder we are still alive.

So it’s not like my mom was used to Protestant-aesthetic Christmas trees with a spare rope of white lights and maybe some homemade garbage. But even she was a bit taken aback by my dad’s philosophy that it isn’t a Christmas tree if you can’t see it from space. Maybe there is something of the Jewish experience in it. For what do I have a tree in my house already if it can’t be nice? I don’t know.

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My son and I went to get our tree Sunday in the snowy brick-lined Brooklyn of holiday cheer and general merriment. We walked up to them. The attendant in a hoodie had just exited the trailer. “Can we get a small one?” my son asked. “No,” I said. We wound up with a seven-footer with a nice shape. It fell out well, it makes the room. I threw about 500 mini lights on the interior, just to form a base. But we’ll start actually decorating it today, and finish on Christmas Eve with friends and family.

This is my second Christmas without my dad. Last year, Christmas fell so close upon his passing that for the first time in my life I didn’t get a tree. There didn’t seem much to celebrate.

But time softens the rough edges of life like a soft hand across cool bed sheets. Now I look at my tree. It pales in comparison to the virtuosity of the convert, the glib glam and glamour, the expression of joy my father wrought in his hands.

I miss him. I would have named my son after him, or at least argued for it, but Ashkenazic Jews don’t name children after living people. So my son is named after my father’s father, a Jewish chaplain in the Korean and Vietnamese wars who was not particularly enamored of Christmas, or my decision at age 10 to choose Catholicism over Judaism.

I don’t think my son thinks of himself as a Jew in any concrete way. I’m not sure I do even though half of my ancestors reach back to that ancient covenant with God. I’ve always felt like an admixture, never quite belonging to either side. So is my Christmas tree.

But it glows, man. A tree glows in Brooklyn. I think dad would like it. But he’d want more lights.

David Marcus is the Federalist’s New York Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter, @BlueBoxDave.



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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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Son of prominent conservative leader Bozell arrested in connection with Capitol siege

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Leo Brent Bozell IV, the son of conservative leader L. Brent Bozell III, is facing federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 breech of the U.S. Capitol.

Bozell is charged with obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct, according to a federal complaint unsealed Tuesday.

The official affidavit includes photos and videos that appear to show Bozell inside of the U.S. Capitol Building, including the Senate chambers.

At least one photo shows Bozell wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a logo for a Christian school at which he once coached girls basketball, according to the Huffington Post.

The FBI obtained a photo of him posing with a student of a school, in Hershey, Pa.

His father founder, who founded the Media Research Center and other conservative groups, has condemned the riots, saying, “You can never countenance police being attacked. You cannot countenance our national capitol being breached like this. … I think it is absolutely wrong,” according to NewsBusters.

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