We are very proud to be an interfaith family.
When Mr. Allie and I were engaged, and just beginning our life together, we heard a lot of negative comments from people, both Christian and Jewish.
“How can this work?” “You have to choose one or the other, you can’t do both.” “Just wait until your kids are born, you are going to have all sorts of problems.”
Well, I can’t say Mr. Allie and I have ever really had a serious disagreement about religion, and I’m pretty glad to be able to show those people, after almost ten years of marriage and five of parenthood. Our kids seem to be equally at ease with the situation.
I’ve always preferred to keep the focus on our similarities rather than our differences, and, eternal optimist that I am, I just love being able to enjoy both cultures and share all the stories, prayers, traditions, decorations, foods, and general celebration that goes along with having twice as many holidays. This year, like every other, we have brightly colored lights on our front porch, a Christmas tree covered in blue, white, and silver decorations (candles and dreidles among them), and a menorah on our sideboard.
One fun challenge we have faced in recent years is how to keep Christmas and Hannukah special, separate, and exciting for our kids. With these two holidays being so close together on the calendar, sometimes even overlapping, we don’t want any excitement to be taken from one to the other. So we’ve had to get creative with how we celebrate.
We’ve decided that Christmas, in our house, wants to be about music, extended family coming over to enjoy good food and gift-giving, and Santa bringing lots of presents. And since Hannukah is spread out over 8 nights, we like to make it focused on immediate family, togetherness, and fun activities and outings.
One cozy afternoon last year, my son and I created this Hannukah board.
On each night of Hannukah, we recite the prayer as a family, (I added it to the board so even the non-Hebrew-schooled can follow along), and light the candles on our actual menorah. Then, a child pulls the corresponding numbered strip from the board, revealing the “lit” flame behind it. On the back of the strip is written what our activity will be on that night. We do all kinds of fun things: go out for pizza, rent a movie, make latkes, play games, and there are a few small gifts sprinkled in there too. (Tonight my boys will be playing hockey with their dad in the basement with their new hockey goal!) Everyone seems to really enjoy it.
I hope that you and your family enjoy this holiday season and make lots of your own happy memories and traditions. Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas!