The holidays can be a fun, exciting, and stressful time of the year. Normally those stresses are around where you might decide to spend the holiday, the actual travel to get there, and then of course how you’re going to pay for all those gifts! I’ve personally dealt with all those stresses, as I’m sure most all of you have. However, there is one type of stress that I haven’t quite felt until recently.
I was born and raised in a Jewish household on the east coast. Growing up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland everyone was Jewish, or so it felt. So when I thought about how my children would celebrate the holidays it never occurred to me that a Christmas tree would be sitting in our living room. Now I’m not a religious person so when I met The Boss it didn’t bother me one bit that she wasn’t also Jewish. We agreed that we would raise the children with an understanding of both of our holidays.
Last year Jake was 3 months old around this time and O was 19 months old. Neither one of them had any idea what a holiday was nor the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah. I always knew once they got to a certain age we’d have to share with them both cultures and activities.
What I didn’t account for was the “cool” factor about these holidays. Hanukkah has never really become that commercialized for whatever reason. Not to mention there just isn’t that many Jews in America when you think about it. So what does this all look like? Well, how about Christmas Tree lightings all over, lights on houses, and Christmas music in stores. Now before I go any further let me just say for the record that I think all this stuff is great! I love Christmas music and the lights are so awesome! My point is we’re walking through Target and there’s a huge Christmas section with trees, lights, Santa’s, and all kind of festive things! Now if I’m 2 years old like O I’m going to love this stuff! It’s exciting and fun, right? Heck, even us adults get excited about it! But what about Hanukkah? If you’re lucky there will be a very little portion of one section of an aisle that’s got some Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins in the gold bags) and some sorry ass looking Menorah.
So how do I make dreidel’s, latkes, and Menorah’s cool in the face of Santa, Reindeer, Jingles, and Christmas Trees? Do I convince the Mall Santa to spin the Driedel so O and Jake think it’s cool? I guess for now Hanukkah will have to be really celebrated and expressed in our own home. They’re just not going to “see” Hanukkah outside of the house like they will Christmas. I’m going to have to get some fun games for us, have them participate in the lighting of the Menorah, and help me cook.
I want to create some of our own traditions. It’ll also be special if we’re the only one’s doing it and it’s not something they see everyone else doing. Maybe I’ll call up our local Synagogue (we have one!) and see if they have anything for little ones.
The challenge is that at 2 years old children aren’t going to be engaged in a holiday/activity because of the history behind it. O doesn’t care that oil burned a light for 8 days and nights. She cares about bright lights, music, and the like. When they’re older then of course we can talk about what’s behind the holiday but for now I still want them to be just as excited about Hannukah as they are Christmas.
Are you in a mixed marriage or do you know a couple who is? If so, do you have any suggestions for us? How do you get your children excited about one holiday when another one just seems so much more fun?