The Whole Package! Dear Santa, .... Love, Rachel Rosenstein by Amanda Pate and Andrea Trover
I live in the big brick house on Huntley Drive. Yes, the one with NO holiday decorations. It does have a chimney, and there will be cookies waiting.
I have been good all year, and I know you are a fair person and will not mind that I am Jewish. After all, so was Jesus, at least on his mother's side.
RACHEL ROSENSTEIN LOVED CHRISTMAS!
Sure, being Jewish is fun a lot of the time. She receives eight gifts during Hanukkah and gets to eat all the latkes she can hold. She gets to try out blowing the shofar at Rosh Hashanah, and hunt the afikomen on Passover. She hears Papa Murray say the same blessing his papa and papa's papa and papa's papa's papa said way on back for a really long time. It's all good!
But when Christmas decorations start to go up all over, Rachel gets that yen for the whole package--the Christmas trees, the colored lights, the bright store windows full of tinsely, glittering things, the music, and of course the piles of brightly wrapped presents! Mom makes it clear that Christmas is not coming to the Rosenstein house. Still, Rachel tags along with a friend to see Santa Claus, and the poor guy in the St. Nick suit seems stuck with what to say to her unusual request. But Rachel doesn't give up.
"CAN WE PLEASE PUT UP A TREE THIS YEAR? EMILY'S FAMILY HAS A TREE AND THEY'RE JEWISH," ASKS RACHEL.
"YOU CAN'T SIT ON TWO HORSES WITH ONE BEHIND," PAPA MURRAY SAYS, WITH MOCK SERIOUSNESS.
"AFTER THAN MEAL, I CAN!" JOKES MOM.
But Rachel doesn't give up hope. Maybe Santa did get her letter. On December 24, she makes some decorations for her room. She rummages for some cookies in the cabinet, and when she finds none, she improvises with some leftover Hanukkah latkes with chocolate chips pushed down into them, along with a glass of milk for Santa.
But Rachel's plans are all for naught. In the morning the downstairs halls are still not decked, and there are no presents under a sparkly tree waiting for her.
Mom is not all that sympathetic as she gets ready for work.
"NOBODY ELSE'S MOM WORKS ON CHRISTMAS!" RACHEL COMPLAINS.
But as Mom heads out in her scrubs, she points out that kids still get sick at the hospital and somebody has to be there. And Dad collects Papa Murray and they all head out for their traditional Christmas dinner--at the Chinese restaurant. Papa Murray orders chicken feet and Daddy sticks chopstick up his nose and pretends to be a walrus, but Rachel is still glum... until she sees some friends from her class.
"LUCY DENG! MIKE RASHID! AMINA SINGH! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
"WE DON'T CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS, EITHER, AND THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE OPEN!" SAID MIKE.
But Lucy points out that it's just a few weeks till Chinese New Year, and Amina says she can't wait till Divali, their festival of lights, and Rachel remembers that her Hanukkah is also a festival of lights. The kids share fortune cookies and their own favorite holidays, and at last Rachel gets it that all her friends celebrate special days in their own way, in Amanda Pate and Andrea Trover's Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein (Doubleday Books, 2015). Pate and Trover do a lighthearted and empathetic job of portraying Rachel's wish to have it all in the way of holidays, while the award-winning artist Christine Davenier, who has illustrated books for noted authors such as Norma Fox Mazer, Julia Andrews, Amy Hest, and recently Grace Maccarone's Miss Lina's Ballerinas series, adds her charming illustrations of children enjoying their own family holidays with all the trimmings.
Says Publishers Weekly, "... the story’s real inspiration is having disconsolate Rachel run into her Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindi friends all at the same Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day—a lovely and pointed reminder that America is a land of many 'great holidays.'”