What is important to my husband and myself, is that we instill a strong sense of family tradition and especially CULTURE in our household. We want them to know where they come from and who they are.
Growing up I have so many precious memories of changing out the little wooden star of a snowman calendar as I would walk out the door for school in the morning; counting down for Christmas! From baking cookies, and chocolate covered cherries with my older sister, to the very special morning, tiptoeing down the stairs with the smell of cinnamon rolls being iced in the air, to peek around the corner and get an eye full of what Santa had left us – Christmas was nothing short of wondrous as a child.
But the fun never halted with Christmas. I remember the very next day on December 26th, going to visit my grandmother in Delray Beach. You see, with her (as well as my aunts, cousins, younger sister, step mother and uncles) I have just as heartwarming memories of latkes, playing dreidel in a circle on the floor, of course chocolate gelt and my favorite part – the lighting of the menorah.
Yep! I was raised with both Hanukkah AND Christmas. Was that confusing as a kid? Shockingly not as much as you’d think. Christmas in my house, even though the Italian side of my family was catholic, was not a religious celebration for us, but rather a traditional one. Actually, my grandmother even told me stories of how they used to have a christmas tree on hanukkah often times, simply because the kids loved how they smelled. (Spoiler alert – they triggered my dads asthma hardcore…oye vey!)
As for the Jewish side of my family – while we didn’t go to temple or were orthodox, was still incredibly meaningful and very special to me. I didn’t know it as a little girl, but most of the time Hanukkah had already passed but the party was planned when I would be able to be there after Christmas with the other half of my family. The Jewish side of my family never took away from the joy of christmas from me, and vise versa.
Now that I am older and have my own children with my husband, Shawn, we don’t really practice any specific religion. The really unique thing for me about my Jewish roots is that it’s not just a religion, but a heritage and culture all in one. So if you were to come over for some tea tonight, you’d see our beautifully lit christmas trees (yes, we have two), matching stockings and glitter ornaments. But you’d also see our Mensch on a Bench we named Micah (Jew version of Elf on a Shelf) that teaches us the importance of mitzvah, our menorah, the chocolate gelt and dreidels inside the stockings and you’d probably notice a smell of latkes and matzo in the air as you admire the mezuzah by our doorway.
Our children, while they are still very young, have not expressed any confusion at all. What is important to my husband and myself, is that we instill a strong sense of family tradition and especially CULTURE in our household. We want them to know where they come from and who they are. Truthfully they are a beautiful mix of both Shawn and I. That’s something we strive to do all year round, but especially during the holidays – and it’s quite the eclectic and extra joyful season!
Until next time, Babes,