Star Trek Christmas Ornaments And The Plight Of Self-Identification

“Nothing of me is original.
I am the combined effort
of everyone I’ve ever known.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters


I tried to take a nap today. My kids were busy drawing, playing with play-doh, petting the hamster and who knows what else with 4 or 5 or 8 of the kids who live next door. It was cold and raining and they all seemed happy, so I said, “We are lying down. If there is a REAL problem, knock on the door. Don’t fight. No, you cannot have any Gushers or Fruit Roll-Ups.”

Nick and I read for a bit, and then I gave up and closed my eyes.

Naps are awesome.

I was awakened by pounding feet and laughing and the horrific noise of the keyboard that my mother purchased for my kids at a yard sale. After five minutes of listening to a herd of children trampling through my house, I gave up. I told Nick I was going to make tea and shop for Christmas decorations.

I got up, made some Chinese Restaurant Tea, and returned to the bedroom with the tea and my laptop.

I already had several Christmas ornaments in my Crate and Barrel shopping cart. I am just saying that the fat penguin with the glasses is a pretty fucking cute ornament. I showed Nick the Wooly Penguin With Eyes Closed ornament and the Wooly Penguin With Eyes Open ornament and asked him which one he liked better. Then, I realized it was a fucking stupid question because they are both adorable, so there will just have to be two wooly penguins on our tree. Maybe the Eyes Closed penguin had too much bourbon.

I headed over to shop at CB2 and realized that there exists an assortment of spaceship, Sputnik, and satellite ornaments. It’s cool because we figured out that we need to have two small tabletop trees: one in the family room and one in the garage-office-home gym. One tree can be the adorable penguin-moose-bear tree, and the other can be the alien-space-science tree.

As I was putting Christmas ornaments in 4 or 5 various online shopping carts (did you know that Hallmark has made Star Trek ornaments since 1991?), I heard a conversation starting in the family room.

Neighbor kid: “Do you believe in Santa?”

Hannah: “Santa isn’t real.”

Ari: “We’re Jewish.”

Hannah: “Mother Earth isn’t real either.”

I almost laughed out loud.


It’s not actually funny to me right now.

I don’t believe in Santa.

I’m also not Jewish.

In fact, about 2 hours ago, Nick proclaimed that I am a 6.9 out of 7 on Richard Dawkins’ spectrum of possibilities concerning humans’ judgments about the existence of God.

Category 6 is “Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. ‘I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.’”

Category 7 is “Strong atheist. ‘I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung “knows” there is one.’”

6.9 out of 7 is pretty fucking serious coming from a mathematician.

Well, what the fuck am I? Because it is a fact that I just spent a stupid amount of money on penguin and spaceship ornaments for our soon-to-be-purchased Christmas trees, and it is also a fact that I have never lived in a house with a Christmas tree. The whole Jewish thing and all…


It is also a fact that some of my fondest childhood memories involve Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house.

I grew up spending Christmas with my Polish Catholic family, breaking Oplatki, and eating mushroom soup and potato bread. We sang Christmas carols in the bedroom while some brave adult stomped on the roof to imitate Santa (how the fuck was he getting inside when there was no chimney?), and then we all opened the presents that had magically appeared under the tree.

This is true. It happened year after year, and it still happens (albeit in a different house) with my mom’s 8 brothers and sisters, their spouses, and my 15 first cousins, their spouses, and their children. It’s also true that I’ve spent a lot of my life calling myself a Jew. It’s also true that I am an atheist and was an atheist for a long period during which I also would have said I was a Jew.

This isn’t meant to be a post about religion. It’s a post about who I am.

Do I even self-identify?

This year, I’m going to have two Christmas trees. I’m going to break Oplatki and eat pierogi. I’m going to deck out my home office in strings of cheap lights and watch Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in claymation. I like that stuff. I think it’s fun, and it’s part of who I am.

I’m kind of done with being who other people want me to be.

Poor Santa will have to figure out a way to get in the house because I still don’t have a fucking chimney.

Author: Tamara Reynolds

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  1. I’m not getting on the roof to stomp around, but I’ll break whatever Polish bread you want to break with me, my love. Holidays are fun for the sake of them, and we don’t have to care where they came from. Traditions are what you make of them, and what you make them into. Here’s to making a lifetime of new ones with my girl.

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  2. Ok now I need to make an alien-space-science tree. I also love Christmas, I’m 35 and I still leave out mince pies and scotch for Santa..

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