* I actually do not intend to offend anyone, although I expect several million people would disagree and disapprove. Please keep in mind that I’m just talking about my family, my choices and not about yours.
As Christmas draws near, I realize that my kids have no freaking idea what the holiday is actually about. We’re not a religious family. In fact, the only times my kids have heard the words “Jesus,” “Christ” or “God” is when they are said in frustration by me. The savior that is sometimes mentioned in carols? L thinks that means Santa Claus. I realize that at some point my kids will need to be educated about these things, but so far it hasn’t really been necessary, and frankly, I just don’t know how to do it.
I grew up in a non-religious Jewish household. I was exposed to the religion and holidays- we celebrated the big ones with my grandparents- but none of it had any real meaning for me. T was raised in a totally non-religious household where they only celebrated Christmas in the most secular way. Saying that we are a non-observant family seems like an understatement.
Growing up I always wanted to celebrate Christmas. I loved everything about it and I felt left out of the cultural fabric that surrounded me at this time of year. The fact that we celebrate Christmas to the extent we do in my house now is because of me. I love the tree, the stockings, the spirit of the holiday. I love the magic and excitement. It’s all about giving, receiving, magic, Santa, family and fun around here. The actual birth of Christ does not factor into it.
We don’t celebrate Hanukkah although the rest of my side of the family, including L’s and S’s only cousins, do. I kind of hated Hanukkah growing up. It was a Christmas wannabe holiday and it totally didn’t live up to its super awesome counterpart. If we’re with my family during Hanukkah, we’ll do the menorah thing with them, and my mother is pretty pushy about giving my kids Hanukkah presents so they are aware of the holiday. However, L heard the word “Jewish” for the first time a couple of weeks ago. His cousin told him that she is 100% Jewish and that L is only 50%. L, having no idea what the word meant or what the percentages meant, just said something about Batman and bad guys.
What I don’t want is to start a conversation about these things and create confusion. I feel like starting with “some people believe…” sets up a situation where my kids end up saying things to your kids that would be better not said. So my plan is to continue as I have been. Hiding Johnny the elf each evening, lying about Santa, and creating warm family traditions and memories around an entirely secular Christmas. I’ll answer questions if/when they arise to the best of my ability. I won’t limit their exposure to people of any culture or religion. But for now? I think it’s OK if the savior means Santa Claus.
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