The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008


Christmas Plus Hannukah Equals Christmakkah!

The holiday season will soon be over.

Then I will finally put away my “Christmakkah” decorations: the unobtrusive fake tree, which resembles more of an ornament holder, the driedel and Hanukkah menorah, the Nutcracker, and the evergreen garland that just had to do for that Christmas smell I love so much.

We ate or gave away all of the Hanukkah cookies my daughter and I made while listening to my favorite Christmas CDs. But now, I put away the conundrum that occurs every year in December and feel secure again in my decision to have a Jewish household.

The only time of year I question my conversion and raising my daughter Jewish is around Christmas, but I think that time of year presents some unrest for many Jewish individuals, even those who grew up in Jewish households simply because Christmas is so embedded in our culture. I have heard the Christmas tree debate and discussion many times and know many Jewish families that put a tree up in December simply because it’s festive, ignoring the true meaning of Christmas.

There are many reasons I wish to be Jewish, but Hanukkah isn’t one of them. It doesn’t compete with Christmas and is really a minor holiday in the Jewish religion. The gift giving for eight nights is done mostly because of Christmas, and, as my husband’s father said, “Hanukkah is really for the children.”

The smell of frying latkes doesn’t have the same nostalgic impact on me as fresh evergreen. Even what is celebrated during Hanukkah, namely a battle won, on the surface does not strike an emotional cord like the birth of a baby in a manger. Fighting, even if for a good cause, is a result of human failure, whereas the birth of a baby, Christ child or not, is truly miraculous and beautiful.

I try opening my mind and looking a little deeper. Perhaps it is good that this time of year encourages me to reflect and question my decision to be Jewish. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I became Jewish was because I was attracted to the freedom to think for myself and the lack of hierarchy found in Reform Judaism.

It is more of a religion of deed and not of creed. It tests my power of individual interpretation, a value greatly cherished in Jewish thinking. And so Hanukkah not only celebrates a military victory against an indomitable force, but also the importance of taking action instead of relying solely on faith or giving up before starting.

The Jews could have decided that King Antiochus was too powerful, but instead Judah Macabee took action and he and his army saved the Jewish lifestyle. Commendable and inspirational. In this light, maybe even miraculous and beautiful, too.

Every December I’ll unpack my few holiday decorations, wish I had a real tree, and sing my favorite Christmas songs. I’ll also light my menorah, eat my jelly doughnuts, and give my daughter Hanukkah gifts. I know I’ll feel the confusion again and wish for that simplicity I felt as a child, sure Santa on his sleigh will bring me a gift.

And, worse, I might even wish my daughter could experience the simplicity of Christmas as I did as a child. Instead, she’ll know both Christmas and Hanukkah and realize at a very young age, that there are many ways to celebrate life and multiple interpretations, too. As messy as it is, reflective questioning and open-mindedness are essential aspects of the “Christmakkah” season for me, and I hope for my family, as well.

By Rebecca Elegant

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