home is your parental right and your familial duty, even if it means agreeing to disagree with certain members of your extended family. Stick To Separate But Equal. Christmas may be more common and commercial than Hanukkah, but don’t let that trump your holiday fun. The nice thing about Hanukkah is that it lasts for eight nights. Light the menorah candles and say the Hanukkah prayer every night, if you possibly can. You may be amazed at how moving and inspiring such simple rituals can be, even on busy school nights. Look for the quieter, more awe-inspiring moments in Christmas as well, such as ending the day admiring the beauty of the decorated tree and window lights. Keep Both Sets Of Traditions. At our house, we celebrate as much of both traditions as we can, without a worry about whether the holidays overlap or not. For me, this means the Christmas tree, the presents, the cookies, the big dinner. For my husband this means lighting two menorahs for eight nights (one for him and one for my daughter), having our daughter’s friends over for potato latkes and some lively dreidel games. Don’t Double Your Gift Budget. We make an effort to celebrate the bounty of two holidays without going overboard. If you are an interfaith family, your kids’ friends may consider them “lucky” because they assume that they get double the gifts every holiday season. However, that’s not
necessarily the case at our house. Our daughter typically gets a little present on the first day of Hanukkah and a bigger present on the last day of Hanukkah. One set of grandparents send a couple of little Hanukkah gifts and a check and the other sends a couple of stocking stuffers and a check. The amount of gifts she receives is essentially the same as it would be if we only celebrated one holiday. Share The Love. Another thing we enjoy about dual holidays is that our daughter can share traditions about both holidays with her friends, no matter what religion they follow, exposing them to a culture they may not have had the opportunity to learn about. Participate Wisely. When invited to join a new or old tradition on either side of the family, give the ritual a chance. We will try just about anything once. But we reserve the right to say no to pressure or anything that makes us uncomfortable. Maintaining an atmosphere where you can say yes or no to your parents without stern chastisement may not come easily in your extended family system. But start trying it, or you’ll never get there. Honor The Choices Of Others. We don’t try to protect our family members from our choices. They need to be exposed to what we value, if we expect them to understand and accept our choices. However, we also try to respect the choices that each of our family members make without imposing our life choices on them.The Jewish families get Happy Hanukkah cards and the Christian families get Christmas cards. When we cross over, we go with “Happy Holidays.” By Christina Katz, who loves celebrating the holidays with her family and friends. Each year her family enjoys exchanging ornaments for the tree and inviting a new group of friends over to play the dreidel game and enjoy potato latkes.