Tag Archives: Hannukah

I Celebrate It All

I call myself a “cashew” for fun. I’m a Catholic-Jew I tell people. My whole life, I have been fortunate enough to be part of a multi-faith family. My mom is Jewish and my dad is Catholic. What does that mean exactly? The easiest way to explain it is to tell you that I celebrate everything. We have Christmas and Hannukah; Easter and Passover. We aren’t a religious family by any means, neither of my parents were particularly dedicated to their religions. I didn’t grow up going to church or temple nor did I have a communion or bat mitzvah (lost out big time on those!), but we always celebrated and shared the holidays together. In the end, being with family is what sticks out the most.

Growing up, I felt like the only Jewish kid in town. Not in a bad way, but no one knew what Hannukah was and in 1987 we didn’t get 15 days off during the year for holidays like Yom Kippur or Passover like kids do now. In my world, everyone went to CCD and celebrated Christmas. It never really bothered me, as I got to basically participate in what everyone else did. Plus, I got to play my Jew card. I didn’t have to go to school on certain obscure holidays and as I got older, I could take off work or leave early for the same reason. However, if I didn’t celebrate Christmas, I think I might have felt differently if I was ONLY Jewish; somewhat sad that I wasn’t part of holidays that were so commercially promoted and in your face.

When I moved to a new town, I noticed a lot of people were Jewish. There were more Jewish people here than I think I have known in my entire life. In fact, I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful group of friends and they are ALL Jewish. I am the only one decorating a Christmas tree and hiding eggs on Easter. I’m suddenly the religious minority in my adult life, like I was during childhood.

This time of year, I notice it even more, as my friends are getting ready to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (it’s 5776 in case you’re wondering). They’re cooking and making plans to visit family and it’s a whole big event. It’s nothing like when I grew up in my small mountain town and it’s kind of nice to see how people embrace these holidays. In my family, if we could make it happen with everyone’s crazy schedules, we did. We’d eat brisket and challah and dip some apples in honey (just to make my mom happy). And if it didn’t work out, we’d skip it and maybe have a “Jewish meal” some other time during the year.

Even though I am surrounded by a lot more Jewishness during this time in my life, I don’t feel any more Jewish, or Catholic, than I used to. I’m married to a man who is Catholic, who doesn’t go to church and isn’t religious himself. He eats matzoh balls and chicken soup and I eat ham and lasagna when the holidays roll around. We have a daughter who is obsessed with Christmas and likes spinning a dreidel and my hope is that is how she lives her life from here on out: spinning dreidels, decorating trees, hunting for eggs, lighting candles on the menorah and eating delicious random holiday food. And most importantly, being with family. Because that’s the way life should be and we are fortunate enough to be able to do it all. L’Chaim. Amen.

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The Overwhelmingness of Christmas

It’s only December 5 and I am already stressing out about the holidays. Believe it or not, today was a much better day that the last few, which have been riddled with online shopping, searching for coupons and discounts codes, picking up tinsel and making sure the tree has enough water so it lasts through Christmas.

I love the holidays. Thanksgiving tends to be my favorite because it was always the biggest in our home; probably because we grew up in an interfaith family. We always did Christmas and Hanukkah but Thanksgiving was the creme de la creme of all the celebrations. This year, Thanksgiving was gone almost before it even started, so we’ve been full steam ahead into Christmas for weeks now.

I love Christmas, I do. The lights, the decorations, the festiveness – it all gives you a warm and cozy feel. And the fact that my year-and-a-half old daughter is smitten with Santa, Christmas trees and The Elf on the Shelf, it’s even more fun. But with all the fun that comes with this lovely holiday, there are plenty of stressors that creep up at Christmastime.

Before we even started defrosting the turkey, there were so many emails and commercials for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (now it’s Cyber Week?!?). I don’t go out on Black Friday, ever. But, this year, I started my shopping even before Thanksgiving hit. There’s handful of people to buy for and when you’ve been buying gifts for them their whole lives, or a good portion of it, for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, etc. it gets tougher each year. And then there’s the advertising, telling me it’s my last day to save big, blah, blah, blah. I just couldn’t keep up. And before I knew it, another email would come telling me the sales were extended and even more bonuses or savings were added. Then I found myself calling the retailers trying to get the better deal and those calls always took at least 30-60 minutes. It was exhausting. Over the last week, I’ve felt like I was a slave to my computer, wasting every free moment looking online for gifts. And of course, you know I’m still not done.

Between all the shopping and boxes that are lying around full of Christmas decor waiting to be hung, I’ve felt like I was suffocating at times. So today, it was so nice to just take a break from all the shopping and craziness of the holiday season to enjoy a day that consisted of our norm: playdates, the gym, going out to lunch and soon, a nice glass of wine. Plus, it’s Friday. That’s my bonus deal of the day.

As much as we’ve done, there’s still so much more to go and do. Yet, even with all the craziness going on, I’m still loving the warmth of Christmas and have so much to look forward to; the excitement in my daughter’s eyes whenever she spots Santa; our first real Christmas tree; the anticipation of wrapping a ton of gifts (I really do actually love this part); the delight when everyone opens their presents; the holiday traditions; and finally, and most importantly, celebrating the season with friends and family.