I have struggled with this time of the year my whole life. Being Jewish means you feel left out of the whole magic of Christmas experience. I have celebrated Christmas dozens of times with friends, and now family, but it doesn't change the whole feeling.
So let's start with Chanukah. We celebrated every night. But it is such a minor holiday in Judaism...
For the last few months Matt and I have been taking an Introduction to Judaism class every week. And while it has not been the most fun class (the instruction method is a little dry), there have been some real gems of moments. Most of the class are young couples who are getting married or recently married. So when we started taking about Chanukah and Christmas it was very interesting for me.
I love holiday cards. Especially ones with pictures. Not so much the letter telling what everyone was up to this year. Those seem to glaze over the troubles and only focus on the positive, and that's not how the year really went. I digress.
So I was really worried that I hated Christmas. Not the holiday, but the actuality. I mean, how could you hate a holiday?
I read an article for class that... struck a chord. And then we talked about it in class and I learned a lot more about my relationship with Christmas. It wasn't Christmas I hated, but parts of it. I was finally able to compartmentalize Christmas.
I hate most of the Christmas music on the radio. And during our conversation at class I figured it out. I hate the commercialism of Christmas. All the ads on TV. The secular music that gets played over and over again on the radio. It drives me nuts and makes me feel excluded.
I love the religious aspects of it. I loved going to midnight mass with friends in high school. It was a beautiful service and a wonderful way to celebrate with family. I love sitting at my mother-in-law's house for a family meal, decorating the tree as a family, and being together. I love going to church with her and listening to her lead the congregation. I love her sermons. I love the candles.
But I LOVE the lights. Christmas lights feel like the marriage between Chanukah (and the festival of lights) and Christmas. They are a beautiful way of lighting up the darkest time of the year ands making the home feel inviting, whether for Santa Claus or visiting family. One of my favorite holiday memories growing up was driving around Dallas to see the lights with my grandparents.
So Baby Girl, realize how lucky you are. You get to experience all of the wonderful parts of the holiday season. You have two excuses to be with family. You will get to experience all of the lights, both Chanukah and Christmas. Because we are going to celebrate a-la-carte. We are going to celebrate Chanukah with our family. And we are going to put up lights. And then we will celebrate Christmas with our family.
Marriage is a blending of two families and two sets of traditions. That means we each get a say in what we include. And I am excited that I will be included in some of the magic next year through our Baby Girl.