A question I get a lot is- how do you manage the interfaith thing? And to be honest, it mostly comes naturally to us- it’s not something I spend a ton of time stressing about. I probably spend the most energy on trying my hardest NOT to spoil my boys, with eight nights of Chanukah AND Christmas. It’s so important to me that our children maintain (and grow) their sweet, giving, loving natures, and not be ‘consumerized’ into becoming materialistic. Yet of course- I want them to fully enjoy both holidays! So that part can be a challenge.
As far as being a family of blended faiths, navigating the holidays is not a big challenge for us. Here are some ways we make it work:
- Our holiday cards aren’t specific to either religion. “Happy Everything” is a sentiment I’ve shared in the past. I usually do use a winter-themed image but steer away from the traditional Christmas setups that many photographers offer for their holiday sessions. There’s no need to choose one holiday over the other just because it’s more common.
- We celebrate not just the holidays, but the cultures of each of our families, so that our kids experience a version of the holidays that is uniquely “us”.
- I scour websites and find the rare gems that are nice Chanukah decor. Trust me when I say, it’s a needle ina haystack, but I’ve gathered items that blend seamlessly with our Christmas decor- so our tree is covered with star of David ornaments, we have wooden dreidels placed on the mantle, and we own every cute pair of Chanukah jammies that exists (along with Christmas ones, of course). This way, Chanukah and Christmas coexist.
- I make it a point to go into my older son’s classroom in December (and of course, plan to with our younger son as well) to talk about our blended family, and tell all the kids about our Chanukah traditions that may be unfamiliar to them (we live in a primarily non-Jewish area). It’s so important to me that we include my kids’ peers and share with them about our traditions. Those children will all be more aware about Judaism and blended families, and will go into the world armed with acceptance and education.
- I make sure that the events we attend for the holidays are balanced. We will absolutely go sit on Santa’s lap and have that classic Christmas experience, but we’ll also go to a menorah-making workshop. I want my kids to view both of these holidays as fun and celebrated within our community, not just at home.
- Back to that big challenge- ALL THE TOYS. The way I combat this is by instilling a sense of giving more than getting. While we do encourage the kids to ask Santa for a gift, we don’t threaten with Santa, we don’t ask them much about what they want- and we do always focus on how much we have. We also adopt a family every year and I let the boys be very involved with shopping for the kids in that family. In a sense, I want them to practice active gratitude and give back more than I really need them to take away lessons from either religion. I want the “spirit of the holidays” to look more like giving and helping than getting. If we accomplish that, we’ve done this blended family thing right.
Are you a part of an interfaith family? How has it changed you? Drop me a note and let me know!