Many of you had some strong opinions in regards to Jordana Horn’s recent piece, Actually, You Can’t Celebrate Christmas AND Hanukkah. Here’s a response from one mother on the other side of the holiday season spectrum.
Our mostly agnostic family celebrates both Jewish and Christian holidays, despite the fact that such cross-practice is technically anathema to both religions. We shamelessly pick and choose religio-cultural traditions and implement them willy-nilly. Here’s why, and how, and why it should be okay:
I am an atheist from a family of what I’ll call “Santa Claus Christians” (as opposed to Jesus Christ Christians). We do Easter Egg hunts and Christmas trees, but we never had a religious family life to speak of.
Meanwhile, my husband is from a family of very secular American Jews. Very secular. My husband is the younger sibling and he never even had a bar mitzvah because his parents were burned out by the experience with his older brother.
My husband and I met as adults, got married, generally agreed to be non-religious with some select Oprah-style “remembering your spirit” exceptions, and largely ignored the topic of faith for most of the first part of our relationship.
We now have a kid. My husband has little or no interest in passing along his family traditions, which don’t seem to have been particularly pronounced in any case. I, on the other hand, am both intrigued by and proud of my son’s Jewish heritage. I know a gloss of Jewish culture from growing up in west Los Angeles and the Valley with countless Jewish friends, and I could probably even “pass” if I wasn’t interrogated too closely. But I don’t have that iron-clad family certainty of “this is how you do it,” (or don’t do it, as the case may be) when it comes to the actual religion, or even just the more obscure holidays. Like, I know there’s such a thing as Tisha B’av, but wouldn’t have the first idea what to do about it.
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