Each holiday season, I set aside an afternoon to complete my Christmas shopping. During one such afternoon about five years ago, while walking down a crowded shopping mall concourse, I saw a mother clad in a burqa attempting to console an extremely agitated baby in a stroller. As the parent of a toddler at the time, I was no stranger to agitated babies in strollers. Appreciating her plight, I flashed her an empathetic smile as I walked past her.
After ducking into a store and browsing for five minutes, I returned to the corridor. I then came upon the burqa-clad mother with the stroller again. As I walked past her this time, the baby was quiet as a lamb, and the mother was leaning into the stroller singing softly, with a heavy Middle Eastern accent, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up into strings, these are a few of my favorite things . . .”
I believe that America is the only country in the world where you can encounter a woman in a crowded marketplace during the holiday-shopping season, wearing a burqa, and consoling a fussy baby by singing a song that has come to be associated with Christmas, written by a Jewish guy.