This year, on December 25th, my entire blended family will be together. And this is what concerns me. My stepchildren have always celebrated Christmas, including decorating trees, staying in their pajamas all day, getting presents from all relatives, opening stockings, and listening to Christmas carols. But I’m Jewish.
My daughter has been raised Jewish and my son – my stepchildren’s brother – will also be raised in the Jewish faith. We certainly don’t have a wreath on the door and Santa does not get cookies and milk (Sorry Santa, but really, how many cookies and glasses of milk do you need?)
So now I have two Jewish children, who celebrate Jewish holidays, and two children who celebrate Christian holidays. I’m not a believer in Christmakah, meaning I don’t really like the idea of getting a tree, or hanging stockings on my fireplace, simply because it could look lovely and be in fact a lovely time. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a Christmas-hater. Christmas trees can be beautiful. The idea of family hanging around together in their pajamas all day sounds wonderful. Seeing children opening gifts, with so much excitement, can be so heartwarming.
I have no reason, really, to not celebrate Christmas, even a little, except for the fact that I’m Jewish and am a firm believer in my religion. That’s my only reason. And I think my stepchildren should know that at my home we don’t do Christmas (or Easter for that matter.) I sound like such a Grinch! But I’m not.
We celebrated Hanukkah at our house, with a party, where the kids did get a lot of presents and cash. They ate latkes and played with dreidels and lit the Menorah every night. They had a great time, even if they had no idea what the meaning of lighting a menorah means.
But now as Christmas fast approaches, I can’t help but think, “Am I responsible for keeping up with their traditions?” If I do, whether it’s buying them presents, or getting a tree and decorating it, how then would I explain this to my daughter? And, will I be setting up a new tradition, which I don’t believe in, with my son?