Balancing Christmas and Hanukkah in a Dual-Faith Family
And then there’s Christmas. In some interfaith families, there’s always a debate about the tree. Some Jewish folks find the presence of a tree in the house to be too overwhelming. Others don’t mind it. In our family, if it’s part of my family’s tradition, it is celebrated. We get a tree. We visit Santa. We hang stockings. We put up decorations. We watch Christmas videos and listen to Christmas music, which brings up the issue of the Pooh Christmas tape that I stupidly forgot to put away with the rest of the decorations last January. I’ve been listening to Pooh and Tigger’s rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas” since Yuletide 2000. I’m ready to feed the pear tree into the wood chipper and to tell the maids-a-milking to take a hike.
We always make two sets of holiday cards — one festooned with red and green and perhaps a Christmas photo, the other featuring blue and a menorah. For the kids’ first December, we took a photo of them in Santa hats with one of our menorahs placed between the slumping infants who had no clue what was going on. The sentiment was a simple message: Peace.
As the kids grow older, I know it will be difficult to try to make Hanukkah look as exciting as Christmas. You don’t see many Hanukkah specials on TV, and those aren’t songs about dreidels you hear piped into the stores, although there is that Adam Sandler Hanukkah song… We have decided not to pit one against the other. In our house, they’re not in competition. They are what they are. It just so happens that they occur at the same time of the year. We’ll just have to scrape our kids off the ceiling because the excitement will reach epic proportions.
That’s okay, as long as it tires them out and fills their emotional reserves with warm, fuzzy holiday memories. And then we don’t have to worry about any more holidays for what, a month or two, until Valentine’s Day, and then it’s Easter and Passover time again. Oy vey!
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