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The Christmas/Chanuka Thing

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  1. #1
    Sharon
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    The Christmas/Chanuka Thing

    I thought we would have another year before J noticed that everyone else was celebrating Xmas and he was not. But as soon as houses started being decorated he wanted to know about Santa etc.

    I explained that we celebrate a different holiday. At first he was sad. Fast forward three weeks to Xmas eve. We were walking around downtown and he just said, pointing at decorations, "that's xmas. we don't do xmas. we do chanukka". And he looked really happy about it. Not bad for a three year old. I had to laugh because I say "We CELEBRATE Chanuka" and he says "We're DOING Chanuka".

    Tomorrow morning we are making menorahs with two other families. in the evening we have a 1st candle celebration with families. He won't notice his friends are all busy.

    He's been singing "svivon sov sov sov" a Hebrew song for Chanuka, and he is really looking forward to the candles.

    Hope everyone is easily facing the holiday dilemma. I wonder if it gets harder or easier as they get older.
    Nov. 2, 2002 - Jordan Born
    Dec 19, 2002 - May 23, 2003 raising fabulous baby Jordan in Antigua
    May23, 2003 - Jordan home

    2006 Waiting to fost-adopt


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  3. #2
    Andee
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    Hi Sharon,
    Happy Chanukah to you and your family!

    I've been dealing with this 'Why don't we celebrate Christmas' issue for the last few years. My kids are currently going to a Sunday school locally that is more or less Humanistic Judiasm...as an intro to the religion. I really like their curriculum, and my kids love to go. and there is quite a variety of Jewish members (mostly mixed marriages and bi-racial) it seems. For now, where the kids go is OK, but I felt very uncomfortable with their high holiday services which were very minimal and without Hebrew or spiritual context at all.

    I was raised in a conservative synagogue that was very progressive with egalitarian issues, women as equals and they are now instilling spirituality into their services and programs, but we live too far away. I dabbled in Reconstructionist Judiasm, and felt very comfortable with that, but the only reasonably close Reconstructionist congregations or Chavurahs have very few children as members.

    So, to get back on your topic, we were at the grocery store yesterday, picking up some stuff for our family celebration, and the clerk wished my kids and I a Merry Christmas. My son, defiantly stated 'we don't celebrate Christmas, we have Chanukah and its for 8 days!!' I felt bad for the clerk and told her, in front of him 'Thank you, and we can all be happy for each other'. My son (and I by association) have gotten in trouble for saying 'Santa Claus isn't real' which made the other kids cry. I assured his teachers he was not told to say that...but he took how one of us explained that they believe in Santa Claus to feel happy and to help them celebrate their holiday. My son in turn, took that and said what he did. I apologized profusely!

    My son started kindergarten in public school this year, and he tells me he has kids in his classes that celebrate both, and now wants to know why we can't have a Chanukah bush too....sigh. Its an ongoing balancing act between having him feel comfortable and proud of his religion and yet being respectful and understanding, as much as a 5 year old can be, of other religions.

    Hugs,
    Andee
    Last edited by Andee; 12-25-2005 at 11:41 PM.
    Andee 45, dh 47
    TTC #1 for 3 years...remain unexplained
    IA since January 2002
    Gotcha day December 16, 2002 in Kirov, Russia!!
    Proud mom to William Almaz (3/00) and Sarah Oksana (3/02)


  4. #3
    Sharon
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    Hey Andee. happy Chanuka. Long time no see.

    I had not even thought of how Jordan will respond when he's more verbal to Christmas as a whole. We have given it a pretty flat tone "some people celebrate Christmas and we celebrate chanuka". He has seen trees at friends' houses and we drove around to see the xmas lights. We always say how pretty they are (and I like to sniff the trees). He knows some freinds go to church. We have friends who celebrate pagan holidays and in Israel we have Muslim friends so I sure hope he learns to be respectful. He has learned to say "Merry Christmas" to friends, which is sweet.

    The Santa thing is a problem. If he asks if Santa is real the answer is "no." Some people believe but we do not think there is any such thing as Santa. The spirit of giving that Christmas has come to represent we believe in strongly---all year round, but presents come from the people who love you.

    I gave this alot of thought but if there is any chance that Santa exists that would mean there is a chance he's skipping our house because Jordan is naughty not nice; naturally that's unacceptable. Someone told me to say that he's real if you believe in him. That would be telling Jordan to believe and then the guy in the red suit will arrive. And in general I am opposed to telling my son anything but what I believe to be true. So yes, he will let the cat out of the bag at some point and some kids may not like it. On the other hand he will be told that Jesus is the son of God by some other kids and I will have to set that straight. In fact, in the major scheme of things I will have to address much more than my Christian friends will as far as what is being said in school. When we first moved to the states I was seriously asked by another 9 year old if all Jews had horns hidden in our hair. Sadly Santa is a minor issue.
    Nov. 2, 2002 - Jordan Born
    Dec 19, 2002 - May 23, 2003 raising fabulous baby Jordan in Antigua
    May23, 2003 - Jordan home

    2006 Waiting to fost-adopt


  5. #4
    AmyP
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    What I have said to Mia is that Christmas is to celebrate things we don't believe in. The holidays that are to celebrate the things we DO believe in are Rosh Hashona, Passover, Sukkot. I then have told her (and she seems to really like this) that we can still enjoy all the beautiful decorations, the lights everywhere and the all other fun stuff.

    Now, in her Kindergarten class of 16, there are 3 kids in Sunday school with her, and at least 2 other kids from Jewish or interfaith families - so she is not at all alone.

    We also cook a LOT of latkes.....

    So that worked this year - we will see how she goes when she is 6.

    Happy Chanuka to all!
    Amy

    Mom to Mia
    born Guatemala 4/2/2000
    home to Boston 7/5/2001


  6. #5
    Sharon
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    Amy,

    I grew up in Brookline and gosh, do I miss it when it comes to Jewish community. We had four, count 'em FOUR Israeli kids in my class in grade school. I don't know how many more were American Jewish but I think at least half the class.

    While I love my island in the bay we are a definite minority here and it makes a big difference.

    OK, off to wrap the second night present. Its the big one--the red sports car. The guys should be back any minute to light candles.

    The latkes fest begins tomorrow. Let the calories mount and the weight rise.

    Sharon
    Nov. 2, 2002 - Jordan Born
    Dec 19, 2002 - May 23, 2003 raising fabulous baby Jordan in Antigua
    May23, 2003 - Jordan home

    2006 Waiting to fost-adopt


  7. #6
    Rifka
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    Hello all and Happy Hanukah... I to have begun to face this dilemna but I have a long way to go. Hannah is 5 months old now and my in laws are catholic. So it was ironic that her first Hanukah happend to land on teh 25th on December. It was tough to convinve my MIL that it wasn't her first x-mas but rather her first Hanukah. My SIL's got it but even on the card my MIL gave to Hannah it said Merry Christmas.
    I grew up in New York and akthough in my town there wern't many Jewish families I never felt like I was missing out on anything. I was always aware that I only celebrated the Jewish holidays and I loved them!!!
    I hope I can enstill that in Hannah...
    I can't wait until she is old enough to enjoy the latkes!!! I think I have come very close to Grandma's!!
    Happy Hanukah!!!
    Rebecca


  8. #7
    Sharon
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    I am so so so happy we are meeting on this board. Last year a similar discussion started on another board and it went off on bad tangents. Its nice to have aplace to discuss parenting issues that might be relevant to Jewish families.
    Nov. 2, 2002 - Jordan Born
    Dec 19, 2002 - May 23, 2003 raising fabulous baby Jordan in Antigua
    May23, 2003 - Jordan home

    2006 Waiting to fost-adopt


  9. #8
    LBWP
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    My twins are 3 yrs. old & I live in a mostly Christian area. I plan to begin taking my children to Sunday school soon to introduce them to their jewish religion & at least have them associate w/children of their own faith on occaision. I'm positive there will be no Jewish children in their regular school. We live too far out from the city & a Jewish community/congregation just hasn't quite reached our rural area as yet. It is surely coming our way, but it still may be many yrs. away. One man recently said to me "don't you know that Jewish people don't live out in the countryside". What are you doing out there?!

    As I said in a previous post, my dh is a Christian & my children will always be subjected to the Christian holidays, just as I was as a child w/my mothers side of the family being Catholic. I feel I have to respect dh & his family religious beliefs just as they do mine. I personally don't judge any religion to be more "right/true". I feel that my participation/engagement in the celebration of any Christian holidays w/friends, family, or school, does not/will not/can not change my religion or beliefs. Who I am & the religion I was born is in my heart & between me & g-d. I will teach my children that they are Jewish & what we believe in as they age & mature for hopefully their understanding as "I" teach it to them. But Santa Clause to me/us is not about the Christian religious beliefs, it is about gift giving & recieving for being a good person & ending an old yr./beginning a new yr. of life. I will also teach them about charity during this time of the yr. as it is all around them. Not for it's religious context/connection to Saint Nicholas though, just for the heartfelt of giving, just as we do during our hanukkah celebration.

    I will teach my children that it is not that the Jewish people deny the birth of a Jewish mortal child named Jesus that was born from his Jewish mother Mary on the date of Dec. 25th. But it is that the Jewish people believe as our religion teaches us that this man named Jesus failed to prove to the Jewish people that he was the messiah to Isreal & the Jewish people-thereby making him a false prophet as we must view him. We can't believe as our Torah has direct requirements of fullfillment for our people to know/identify our messiah when presented. When my children say (as they do) that X-mas is the day that baby Jesus was born-I will just tell them "yes" this is so as it was. We will not however acknowledge him as our savior/messiah, pray to him or thru him as the son of g-d. He was just another Jewish man just like the rest of the Jewish people. I will tell my children that some people believe that he is their way into heaven but we the Jewish people do not & why we don't. Please keep in mind as you read this that I was raised reformed & the religion has been taught to me in its basics, which is how I would like to keep it for my children to grasp & understand. Please feel free to correct me if I have stated something that is incorrect. I would embrace the knowledge.

    I think that all our children will grow up to believe whatever family traditions & beliefs we instill in them no matter our religion. However, that still does not guarantee that they will choose in the end to believe as we do. All that can be done is to give them the best education possible despite all the outside factors that will play into their lives.

    L (42)
    Mom to "K&E"
    Last edited by lbwp; 12-27-2005 at 11:49 AM.


  10. #9
    tanjalalie
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    L, what you posted comes right out of my brain and heart!
    Our little Quinlan will also know that there once was a man named Jesus, a Jew amongst Jews, who worked very hard and was very involved with doing Mitzvahs. He was exemplary for that.

    I was raised in a protestant home, but had been more leaning towards atheism most of my life, however, have found alot of personal value in Judaism through my husband.

    I have always done a Tree, I just call it my bright-tree-in-winter, and will continue that...
    Quinlan will have Chanukah ofcourse, and a tree and the Avi's jewish family tradition of Chinese food and a movie on December 25th when it does not coincide with Chanukah...

    Tanja
    Last edited by tanjalalie; 12-28-2005 at 07:48 AM.
    Me: 42, DH, Avi: 29. Three
    IVF #2 12/04: Twins. Twin B at 11 weeks, 2 days
    Twin A: Quinlan Nathaniel, 6lbs, 10 oz. , born 08-29-2005 Proud to be AHM!
    Natural miracle Kian Yehuda to be delivered by C-Section on 2-16-2007



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