Growing up, I celebrated Hannukah with my Jewish family. Every December for 8 nights, we’d say the appropriate prayers, light the menorah, and open a few gifts. Weeks before my parents would hide them from my brother and I and we would always go looking for them. When we’d find them, we’d carefully open up a corner of the wrapping paper and take a peek at what we were going to get. I had many Christian friends who often invited me to their Christmas celebrations, so I had a taste of different cultures.
As I got older, the holidays became more about family get-togethers. We didn’t always light the menorah and the Christian family I married into didn’t always have a Christmas tree. The excitement and wonder died down significantly as they often do as we get older.
Now that I have a family of my own, it feels like the right time to rebuild these traditions and create new ones. While my husband and I are not religious, it feels important that my son learn our culture, our history, and take part in this important milestone in adolescence.
This year, I got my very first Christmas tree. It was just a little plastic thing that fit nicely in the corner of the living room in my apartment, the living room which has quickly become my son’s playroom. I also got a menorah and said the prayers that were ingrained in me since my days of Hebrew school. My son may be too young to really remember, but it was a good practice year. I’m sure by next year I’ll need to brush up on the details of the history of these holidays so I can answer his questions and add to the traditions — maybe a bigger tree, more ornaments, some household decorations, stockings, who knows?
I don’t know if I’ll teach him to believe in Santa, but I will learn more about the traditions of Christmas and more importantly the values that come from them. When it comes to religion, I personally don’t believe in the financial investment of religion or pushing a belief on my children. But I fully support the values that the Judeo-Christian upbringing my husband and I experienced and teaching my son to have faith, do good, be kind to all, and to have an open mind.
I just can’t wait to see what kind of traditions we will create as a family.