A Little Bit of Everything
My husband’s coworker mentioned to him the other day that he never knew I was Jewish. My husband was confused for a moment because I am not. Then he remembered that I had gone “sale happy” with the seventy percent off Hanukah merchandise at Target the other day. We had taken a picture at our family dinner with lots of Hanukah decorations. That was what caused the confusion. I love all of the decorations that go along with that holiday. I love Christmas decorations too. I like happy celebratory stuff. I decorate will all of it, and make a point of teaching my kids what little I know about all of the different celebrations.
If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukah or all of the other ones that I am leaving out, I take it as a happy celebratory greeting not a religious statement. Whatever someone says to me, I say it back to him or her. I have always thought that this way of going about things is more fun. Everyone has different traditions after all. Before I married into my husband’s Italian family, I had no idea about the depth of the ritual of seafood that goes along with the holidays. Some families open one present on Christmas Eve. Some people go to mass. I even have a friend who will not teach her children about Santa. She gives them their presents on Christmas Eve and they focus on the birth of Baby Jesus, not on Santa and the tree.
We like to switch things around a bit every year. I am a big Santa fan. I believe that his spirit exists, and that he is the personification of generosity and giving. Our family tries to turn Christmas into an extension of Thanksgiving. We focus on what we are grateful for, and try to spend as much time as we can with friends and family throughout the season. I guess that I have turned us into holiday mutts, but I don’t really mind. Our holiday is our own, just as everyone else’s is.
When my daughter was in Kindergarten she had a little boy in her class who was Jewish. Over the holidays that year, his mother came into the classroom and spent a few hours teaching the children about Hanukah. I was thrilled. She may have forgotten it all by now, but at that point she probably knew more about the holiday than I did. I think that it is a positive and tolerant exercise to recognize the traditions of other religions. Why ignore the practices of others, just because they are not our own. It seems silly to me that we often get stuck on this as a society. I guess our family’s holiday traditions are my own little attempt at recognizing as many different celebrations as I can all at once. I think that as long as it reminds our family to be grateful, then it must be the right thing for us.