Monday, December 8, 2008


How to delicately approach the sensitive topic of the holidays? I am going to give it a shot.

Growing up in the New York area, I felt surrounded by people who celebrated every holiday - from Christmas to Hanukkah to one lone person in my elementary class celebrating Kwanzaa. We were brought up Jewish and belonged to a reform temple in the area. We spent a lot of time with this community and I have very fond and distinct memories singing with the cantor at temple Friday nights, Hebrew school, the high holidays.

During the winter holidays however, being part of a interfaith family, we celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah. I would tell everyone this was the best of both worlds - heck the more presents the better. But inside I was pretty confused - why was Santa coming to our house when he knew we were Jewish? Was this making me less Jewish? My other Jewish friends certainly didn't have a Christmas tree in their house.

So, here I am with kids facing my first attempt at the winter holidays. I have to preface this with a small truth that every year I turn into a bit of a grinch. I want to have sugar plum fairies dancing in my head but constantly feel myself getting annoyed with the population's assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas. And, I can't help but think it's somewhat regional. There simply aren't as many Jews out here in Colorado.
Am I "sooooo excited for Christmas this year?" the checkout lady asks. Ummm, No. Am I humming along to "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas" for the 50th time? Not exactly. I guess what I want is for people to imagine a world where not everyone celebrates Christmas - there are others out there.

We have decided to raise our little ones Jewish - so in our home we are celebrating Hanukkah. With Damon's family we will celebrate Christmas. With mine, Hanukkah.

My goal this season is not to become the grinch for the sake of my kids - in a couple years they will look around with excitement and wonder in their eyes and certainly ask if Santa is coming down our chimney. I will need to have a good answer for them.

My hope is they don't feel my holiday confusion and resentment. I want them to know this time of year is for (the overly cliched) holiday spirit of family, friends, being kind to others. Of giving, and being thankful and getting together. Oh yeah, and also a "Happy Hannukah!" when the checkout lady wishes us yet another Merry Christmas.

Here is today's attempt....


Monica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monica said...

Hudson looks like she's partaking of the "holiday spirits" in that second picture, if you know what I mean? :)

Zack and I are questioning how to explain Christmas to Aida when we aren't really raising her religious at all. Do we try to teach the Christmas story or just focus on, like you said, friends, family and being thankful.

So far, she's learning everything about Christmas from Mickey's Christmas Movie that she keeps watching on repeat, so I guess that is good enough for right now. :)

Aunt Jenny said...

Don't worry, I will let L&H know Santa is really all of those kids parents as soon as they turn 3! hah!

It is a struggle no matter what. Christmas is very much in your face and Chanukah just isn't "that" kind of holiday for the Jewish people. You can make it fun...latkes, stories, dreidel, and most important jelly donuts!

PS: THere's a CHanukah concert this Sunday at 5pm at Har Hashem. COme with us!