Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An interfaith household experience

There's a Christmas tree in my house. This is actually the second year we've had it. The husband bought it the week after Christmas on sale two years ago.

It's weird.

Not the tree itself. The tree is lovely, even being fake. It's just weird that I have a Christmas tree in my house at all.

Oh, pardon me, it's actually a winter solstice tree. Decorating pine trees at this time of year is, after all, a Pagan tradition. Nonetheless, it is a very stark symbol of... (dun dun dun) ... assimilation. As in, I have assimilated into the dominant (Christmas celebrating) culture. I have sold out, so to speak.

But, not completely, my family will be happy to know. Today I went to SchmoopyBoy's school where I lit my menorah, and talked to the children about how we celebrate Hanukkah at our house. I told them that we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in our home, because SchmoopyBoy's daddy grew up celebrating Christmas and I grew up celebrating Hanukkah. SchmoopyBoy helped by handing me the candles and warning the other children to stay away from the fire because fire might kill them. I sang the prayers for the children and, although I didn't translate them into English, I told them what each was about (for example, "This one is about being thankful that we get to light these beautiful candles", etc).

We don't talk about being Jewish at my house very much. In fact, we tend to not talk about religion, period. Nonetheless, SchmoopyBoy is now at an age where he will remember what we do and what we don't do. He will start to feel ownership, so to speak, of the traditions we do in our home. Despite our household being by and large non-religous, I do want him to feel ownership of the practices I grew up with. I want him to understand that this is his heritage, and there is value to it.

So, I suppose the time will soon come when start having talks about what people believe and that different people believe different things. For now, I am content to say that some people celebrate only Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or the Winter Solstice; and that we celebrate more than one holiday.

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