Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our home for the holidays.

It's a struggle this year. 

To explain the differences between the holidays. 

Christmas is Christmas. It's everywhere. Where wouldn't it be - right? 

It's fun, it's beautiful, it's festive. It's everywhere. 

It's right over my shoulder. Both of them, actually. And in front of my face. 

The stuffed snowman who sits in a small flower-pot-like container atop my unread and unclipped magazines. The shiny one over my left shoulder, hanging next to the bright and shiny Star of David. 

And my other shoulder? Over to my right? Our tree. Our beautiful Christmas tree in all of its glory. 

It's gorgeous. 

I mean, it really is. A beautiful, breath-taking tree that my husband decorated in blue and white lights for me. 

We've actually avoided ... okay ... *I've* avoided many ornaments. I just kind of like it simple like this, with candy canes strewn about and 3 ornaments hanging. One - a snowman. I love snowmen. Always have. Likely because of the celebratory connotation they have without fully bringing out the Christmas for someone like me. The second? A Yankees hot air balloon (I'll refrain from snide remarks, tis the season to be gracious and all that) that my Jewish mother bought my not-Jewish-Yankee-fan husband many years ago. 

And the third ornament? 

Yep. That's an ornament. Truth. 

A handprint menorah hangs beneath a hand-crafted Santa Claus (it's just his head, but it's not creepy, I promise!). The tiniest of Christmas trees sits atop our Chanukah tablecloth at the kitchen table. It's decorated more intensely than anything you've ever seen. 

Our house couldn't be more balanced. 

My heart is trying. My husband doesn't mind either way. Supporting me. My methods. Goals. Whatever it is we plan for our little Jewish Southern girl. 

She learns slowly, what Chanukah represents. We read books, sing songs, dance around the living room with garland and tinsel flying everywhere. 

She knows, happily, that Santa comes on Christmas. And that maybe there's a "real" Santa, but not everyone sees him. Just last night she told me maybe she wouldn't see him this year. But we'll take the dogs to see their Santa. 

How beautiful, caring, sweet. 

She sings Christmas songs and seasonal songs she's learned at school. But she knows some words to the blessings we share nightly for eight nights. "Nine," she says, pointing to the ninth candle. I explain gently, with a reminder of what that tallest candle is for. 

The other night she put her Chanukah presents beneath the Christmas tree. Maybe it's actually easier when the holidays are together. maybe it's not? I'm not sure. Last year I thought it was better. This year I think - well, we've got it all out and she's still confused.

She's only five. Am I supposed to have taught her my religious beliefs yet? Or is it enough to explain that I am Jewish, her Daddy is not, and she is. And she's also "both" - - but we don't get into that. We celebrate. We observe. I talk about my memories. We Skype with my parents. My brother. The whole family is there. Blessings are out over telephone wires. Speaker phones and cell phones and three-way-calling and more. Technology brings us together and we laugh as our chorus of words jumble and overlap from 500 miles away. 

It's confusing. But I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Happy Chanukah from our home to yours!


  1. I think it's absolutely wonderful the way you have melded things in your house. You're doing the holiday season in your own family's style and that's just how it should be. I guess it could be confusing, but I bet when she's older, she will be so thankful that you allowed her to have everything beautiful during the holidays--all of the traditions, fun, and love that go with them. :)

  2. I love hearing how others mix the two. You've written it beautifully. We have 4 Menorah's & one tree. This year we decided our family celebrates both, not dad Hanukkah, mom Christmas. Noah is two but we wanted it to be about our family. And Hanukkah presents go on a table, Christmas under the tree.

  3. It's a tough balance, because religion is such a sacred matter. From the sounds of it, you have balanced it with as much love and knowledge as you can for a 5 year old. Take heart, you're doing great!

  4. Oh you, there's just so very much to this, isn't there? We're learning right now, too.

    Slow and steady and with lots of love, yes?

    Beautiful post, beautiful parenting.


  5. She will understand when her little brain is old enough and you'll be glad you took the time to give her both, so will she!

  6. What a fabulous, and well-written post, Andrea.

    I've known several families that have blended both well.

  7. I think it's awesome that she's learning the religious traditions from both of you. They are treasured memories no matter how confusing! :)


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