Debra Messing Says Roman 'Wants Everything'

12/03/2008 at 08:00 PM ET
Bauer Griffin

For now, at least, it appears that 4 ½-year-old Roman Walker Zelman will continue to enjoy the best of both worlds over the holidays. During a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, his mom — actress Debra Messing, 40 — revealed that her son "knows he’s Jewish" but "doesn’t know that Santa doesn’t come for Jewish people." Debra adds that she "hasn’t broken it to him" yet, so the family "do both" celebrations.

"We have the menorah and we light the candles and so for him, he just knows that it’s Hanukkah because there’s fire…He also loves the prayer, and he pretends like he knows how to say the prayer (babbles jibberish). And he’s so proud of himself."

Roman, who "wants everything" but is not "getting everything," receives eight presents for Hanukkah and then visits his grandmother on Christmas Day, Debra said. "That’s where he gets the much better deal, the whole present explosion under the tree." The holidays in California are a far cry from her holidays growing up in New England, which Debra described as "very Norman Rockwell-ian." The family — which includes Debra’s husband Daniel Zelman — get themselves in the spirit by visiting the outdoor mall The Grove, where Roman enjoys a dancing water display and a neon Santa Claus.

"It goes across slowly on this wire, and you watch it, and then it stops, and then it backs up, and then it goes again. And you’re thinking, ‘Okay how long can this entertain this child?’ Three hours later, it’s like okay, ‘We have to go!’ He just loved it."

Debra’s new movie Nothing Like The Holidays opens Dec. 12.

Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live!

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 14 comments

Freya on

i think its wonderful that she is keeping the magic of childhood alive, rather than spoiling it like so many people do these days

Sanja on

Umm, why wouldn’t he have Santa? Santa Claus is not a religious concept (which is why as Catholics, we teach our kids that Baby Jesus brings the gifts. And we only do one gift, they get more than enough toys from relatives)?

Does any know which part of the family is not Jewish (since she says that grandparents do Christmas)?

SouthernBelle on

I know I shouldn’t make assumptions, but I’m going out on a limb and guess that it’s Roman’s father. Zelman is a Jewish surname.

MB on

Well Sanja, Santa Claus is associated with Christmas and Christmas is a Christian holiday so I assume that’s why he wouldn’t have Santa Claus.

SouthernBelle on

Sorry, my post was not clear! What I meant to say is that it’s Roman’s father who IS Jewish. Most likely Debra converted to Judaism, which most parents of Jewish men want their DILs to do, if they are not already Jewish.

JM on

My aunt married into a jewish family and converted. But when their daughters were born because our family celebrates Christmas and her husbands family celebrates Hannukah they decided to incorporate both holidays into their girls lives. When the girls were old enough to understand they allowed them to decide what they wanted to do. For the most part they celebrated Hannukah because they saw his side of the family a lot more then ours. However as they grew into young adults they questioned both religions and now don’t really believe or follow either tradition.

Rachel-Jane on

Debra herself is Jewish, and not a convert. And her husband is Jewish too. No idea about the Christmas celebrations at a grandparents house, maybe they just don’t want Roman to feel left out in some way?

suzanne on

Messing is a Jewish name as well.
She was raised Jewish.
See wiki:

Melissa on

maybe one of the grandparents is Christian and that’s why they go there for Christmas?

I also agree with MB, for a young kid (especially one who isn’t actually Christian) Santa Claus=Christmas. Growing up, all my cousins were half-jewish and half-christian so my brother and i were given presents at Christmas so we didn’t feel left out. once we stopped believing in Santa Claus, my parents stopped pretending and now we just celebrate Hanukkah, haha.

Heather on

Santa Claus is also known as Saint Nicolas. The whole saint concept is very Christian and would not be recognized by Jews. As a converted Jew, we only celebrate Chanukah at our home.

Natasha on

My family is Jewish and we also celebrate Christmas. Santa Claus has nothing to do with Christianity. Debra and her husband are both Jewish by birth. I don’t know. Dustin Hoffman celebrated both Christmas and Chanukah growing up so it can’t be an Ashkenazi thing.

Rachel on

We’re Jewish, and my 4 1/2 year old daughter understands that we celebrate Chanukah and that one of her Saftas celebrates Christmas. It’s not a big issue, really.

Of course, it’s all made easier by living in a heavily Jewish part of North London, with lots of big menorahs at major intersections, and going to Jewish school. She doesn’t really come into contact with Santa (or Father Christmas) that much.

Lola on

I’m Jewish as well and we only celebrate Chanukah now that we’re grown up. But when we were little my dad used to dress up as Santa and give us presents. I think it is a bit hard for Jewish kids, because at this time of the year everyone is talking about Christmas, and you go to school and write a letter to Santa and all your neighborhood friends tell you what they’re getting for Christmas, so it is very natural that Jewish families celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas.

LolaCola on

Natasha, Santa Claus is part of Christmas, he is called St. NIcohlas (saints are part of the catholic church). His whole myth is based around Christmas. He flys around on Christmas night and puts gifts under a Christmas tree. Christmas is a Christian holiday.