Jonathan Zimmerman's op-ed ("More than a century of war on Christmas," Monday) began, "Once upon time, in the good old days, Americans celebrated Christmas in their public schools. They sang hymns, hung stockings, and decorated trees. And nobody complained."

As a Jewish boy attending elementary school in Chicago during the 1930s, that pretty much describes my experience. There was always a Christmas tree, around which we sang carols. I still know most of the words. This occurred during class time, and we all had a great time. I then went home and lit Hanukkah candles, and neither I nor my parents gave it any thought.

And what was the terrible way this affected me? To this day, I am still Jewish, as are my children and grandchildren. I still enjoy Christmas music and the beautiful displays. When my children were young, my wife and I drove them around the neighborhood to see the decorated houses.

In reality, Christmas has become a semi-secular holiday. The spirit it engenders is not a bad thing. I am perfectly aware of the separation of church and state. But if no single religion is promoted, what's the harm at this one time of the year? People should have faith that their home and religious institutions have taught their children who they are and what they believe.

Ralph D. Bloch