December 19th, 2012
If you come over to the jungalow today, you will find no Christmas tree. Neither will you find a Menorah, a Hanukkah bush, nor one of Kwanzaa’s kinaras. In fact, the jungalow will look as it does on most days–colorful, patternful, a little messy, abundantly jungalicious, but not at all holiday-y.
Let me explain.
I was raised Jewish celebrating Hanukkah and unlike a lot of Jewish friends I had growing up–we didn’t celebrate Christmas at all–we never even had Christmas Tree (or a Hanukkah bush for that matter). Hanukkah was always a favorite holiday of mine–I loved the songs, gambling for chocolates with my siblings with the dreidel, latkes are a fave (my mom makes the yummiest potato pancakes EVER) and, of course, the prezzies. But over the years, I’ve grown to have my own belief system that is more secular than how I was raised. While I celebrate Hanukkah when I’m with my parents, I don’t practice on my own.
This is my first Holiday season as a married woman, as a mom, and the first time I’ve given any thought to how the holidays will be in my family, with my children.
As for my husband Jason, well, he’s an atheist who would happily let the holiday season go by without any mention of Santa, presents, menorahs or twinkle lights (he does love latkes though ).
While I still love many of the traditions that I was raised with, and have seriously always wanted a Christmas tree (you know how I feel about indoor plants) it’s December 18th and I still haven’t figured how I want to treat the holidays in my family.
I also have a pretty big problem with how commercialized the holidays have become–nowadays the holidays seem to be all about ipads and xboxes.
All of this is magnified by this other world that I live in–this online design universe where images of the prettiest ornament, the perfect bay-leaf wreath, the best gift, the most exquisit holiday tablescape are ubiquitous. I feel pressure to be in the holiday spirit, to be sharing my holiday decor, my Chrismukkah menu, my DIY’ed ornaments–but if I did that, at this point, it would be contrived.
I am still trying to figure out what the holidays mean to me now–what traditions I want to pass on to Ida, what stories I want to share with her and what I want to let her discover on her own. Luckily, she is still young enough that an absence of the holidays in our home this year won’t phase her.
How are the holidays treated in your homes? Are any of you in interfaith families or did you grow up in inter-faith families? How about atheist families? Do you or did you celebrate Christmas / Hanukkah? Do you just treat December 25th as it were any other day? I would love to hear your stories as it my help me work through some of my questions, fears and feelings.
Images from: Menorah / Ornament / Tree / Latkes