Merry Christmas – to you.

Post by Melissa

My paternal grandparents were not Jewish. I always knew this and it didn’t matter.  They were my grandparents just the same. So going to their house every year on Christmas seemed perfectly normal.

Lately, I have had a lot of people in my life questioning how to deal with their kids, when (due to rising intermarriage rates) there are important people in their lives who celebrate Christmas and I keep coming back to this moment time and again.

I knew that we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for their holiday.  Just as we had meals with my mom’s family for Jewish holidays, we would have this time with my dad’s parents.  We did nothing for Christmas in our home, because it wasn’t our holiday – but to be with them on theirs was a different story. I would never have said I celebrated Christmas, to me it was like going to someone’s birthday party – you go because you love them and its an important day, not because its a personally important day to you.

I firmly believe that its only as difficult as you make it. If you are clear that we are celebrating for our loved ones whose holiday it is, then its clear and festive.  You don’t have to give gifts and I by no means think you should actually celebrate the day in your own homes, but to go to your family and let your kids know that you are supporting them because they are your family.  After all, isn’t that what everyone wants on a holiday – to share the joy with those they love most?

So today, I say Merry Christmas to all our readers who celebrate.  May you have a joyous day with your friends and family.

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2 thoughts on “Merry Christmas – to you.

  1. Agreed. I do not have this problem since I live so far from any family and my close family (two sisters) now refers to their own presents as Hanukkah or “holiday” presents and very few celebrate Christmas. I know of Orthodox converts who spent the day with family, making it very clear they were there to be with family. They brought their own food. If presents were exchanged, the wrapping paper was secular or Hanukkah style for the Jewish grandkids. What struck me about these families was how hard everyone tried to make it work despite cultural and religious differences. Usually, family conflicts around this time for converts are less about religion and more about how family can spend time together.

    Meanwhile, my sisters and I had unknowingly been celebrating Christmas by eating Chinese food and going out for a movie long before my conversion or discovering our maternal Jewish roots. I stopped calling family to check in on them on the 25th specifically, when I realized that even without wishing my grandmother a Merry X-mas that she was still confused as to what Jews do on one of her most sacred Christian holidays. She understands we are Jewish but I think she believes everyone in every religion celebrates X-mas since everything is closed and there must be nothing else to do. But I do make sure to check in on New Year’s.

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