Ophira Eisenberg, host of Ask Me Another, grew up Jewish, but maintained an obsession with Santa Claus. Hear Eisenberg share a story about her first childhood encounter with Father Christmas, at a shopping mall in Canada.
This segment originally aired on December 17, 2013.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR and WYNC's hour of trivia, puzzles, and word games. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and when I was a child, I will tell you that I was obsessed with Santa Claus. I wanted to go see Santa Claus in the mall because I thought that was the real guy. My mother wouldn't let me.
I would go I want to go see Santa Claus and she would go no! And I'd say why not? And she would say because we're Jewish.
EISENBERG: So I would say, well, who brings us presents? Who brings Jewish kids presents? And she would make up stuff all the time so she was like, uh, Moses.
EISENBERG: She was like, yeah, Moses comes down the mountain every Hanukkah with a sack of dreidels and menorahs. And I knew that was not right. So I still wanted to go see Santa in the mall and she wouldn't let me go. So one day when we were at that mall, I'm looking at that beautiful castle with all the cotton batten snow with sparkles on it and all the kids are lined up and they all look so happy.
And I just begged her. I got on her very last nerve until she went fine, go see Santa. And I couldn't believe it. And I got in the line with all the other kids. But I didn't say anything because now I was an undercover Christian and I didn't want to blow it, you know?
EISENBERG: I was like, be quiet. Just remember what you want to ask for. That's all you have to do, is just say what gift you want. And I wanted a Barbie Dream House. So I was like Barbie Dream House, Barbie Dream House, Barbie Dream House. That's all you have to say.
And then it became my turn and a little gloved hand beckoned me in and there was Santa Claus. He'd invited me to sit on his creepy lap because, all right, he's just a guy. I didn't know that, that he was just a guy. But anyway, it was still cool. And then he leaned into me and said what would you like for Christmas, little girl?
The best question. And I looked up at him and just went I'm Jewish.
EISENBERG: Like, I fell apart. I couldn't handle it. I just totally broke under the pressure and went off script. He was like, that's OK; so am I.
EISENBERG: And I didn't know what to do with the information as a kid so I just started repeating it, like, louder and louder. Just went Santa's Jewish, Santa's Jewish, Santa's Jewish! And these mean elves came out of nowhere and, like, pushed me out of the castle. Kids were crying. I heard an elf on a walkie-talkie going Code Nine, Juvenile Lap. Code Nine, Juvenile Lap.
EISENBERG: The whole commotion. And I ran up to my mother and there's all this kind of chaos going on. She's like what is going on? I'm like, Mom, I just found out that Santa is Jewish. And my mother, without skipping a beat, goes well, of course he is. Who else do you think works on Christmas?
(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.