Our family is a mixed one. I am Catholic and my husband is Jewish. There are many like us around. When it comes to family traditions, every family seems to handle this situation differently. Some choose to honor one religion over another: eating the traditional foods that one religion dictates, only going to that particular house of worship, and celebrating its holidays. Others go completely generic – or at least a watered down version of the religions so much so that a full time follower wouldn’t even recognize it as their religion.
But not us: we celebrate everything! In the spring there are Passover and Easter. Passover brings Matzoh Ball soup and big family dinners. Easter brings fresh ham, Easter Egg hunts and decorating eggs. Literally when the planets align, sometimes these festivities take place all on the same day! Next, in the early winter, there is Christmas and Hanukkah. The first question our children always get asked is “do you get presents for both???” And the answer to that is yes. Now before you go and get all judge-y about eight nights of gifts followed by one big gift-fest, I should tell you that we have a system so that one holiday is clearly discernible from the other. For each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, there are very specific things that the kids can look forward to: including a family game night (with games they already own), a night where we give them tickets to something we go to as a family, and a night where we give them each $50 to donate to a charity of their particular choosing. Both children love our little system and it is highly distinguishable from our very traditional Christmas free-for-all.
Isn’t this overlapping, detail-oriented, multilayered approach to religious traditions confusing your children, you ask? No, not really. They understand that the tenets of religion have more in common than they are different. You see, we believe that the greater message at the core of all religions is kindness: kindness to yourself and others. The dinners, gifts and rituals all underscore that. If you get that right, nothing else matters! Happy Holidays!
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