T’is the season of Chrismukkah

My first introduction to the wonderful term "Chrismukkah"

It’s December, and that means that the holidays are upon us. I’m Jewish and I married a non-Jew. My husband, John, describes himself as half-Jewish and half-Oshawa, the city he grew up in.  This also happens to be partially the rational behind our son Kyle’s middle name – Joshua or Jew-Oshawa. Amazing – I know! As my husband doesn’t really have a religion, before we married we agreed to raise our kids Jewish with a little bit of Oshawa (those of you picturing a mullet flowing out the back of a Yamaka – you’ve missed the mark, those of you picturing a fair, blond-haired jew who might be half decent at sports – you’re likely closer, those of you wondering if Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez will stay together and whether they should have an indoor or outdoor wedding – ummmmm please return to my blog*). However, the biggest contention we had was with regards to the Christmas tree. He wanted one, I didn’t. It’s not that I’m against the tree or Christmas; in fact, I really like Christmas with all of the beautiful lights, big turkey dinner and the gifts (I LOVE buying gifts). Actually, it’s because of this reason that I didn’t want a tree in our home. I was worried that our kids would love Christmas more than Chanukkah. Also, my husband is lazy, so we would never put up a tree unless I did it. So the argument was settled and we were able to get married with all issues regarding religion settled (ya right!).

One of the benefits of interfaith marriage is the holidays. You get to celebrate twice as much and you don’t have to worry about where you’ll be for the holiday. Unlike some of our friends who are constantly stressed and bound to tight schedules of going between one family to the next over a two-day period, we never had to do that. Generally, Chanukkah doesn’t fall on the same day as Christmas. So we would spend Chanukkah at my parents and Christmas at John’s parents’ cottage.

For me, the best part about this time of the year is the many family traditions of both holidays.  I love that in Chanukkah, which I’ve celebrated since I was born; we eat latkes and sofganiot (big donuts without the hole filled with Jam) during a big family dinner where everyone talks over one another.  The dinner is usually preceded by lighting of the Menorah and singing some Chanukkah songs in Hebrew.  I should probably mention that no one in my family, with the exception of my mom, can actually sing to a tune.  So whenever we get to the high-pitch parts, we all just kind of stop singing and look around at one another, but just for a moment, until we all join back in as if nothing weird just happened. This year, like last year, my older brother and his family (which includes 3 kids and 1 on the way) who live in Edmonton are coming in for the holiday.  I love the new element of the young generation.  It reminds me of some of the traditions that I have given up since I “grew up” including playing the dreidel and opening up gifts.  Actually, come to think of it, my brothers and I never received any gifts, just a few dollars.  I think toy gifts were introduced only once we moved to Canada in order to compete with Christmas (see – my fear is true!).

Kyle's 1st Chanukkah

My favourite part about Christmas is spending time up at the cottage.  There’s something amazing about cozying up on a couch next to a wood burning stove with a drink and great company.  Some of my fondest traditions are those that John and his brothers have done since they were little; on Christmas morning, we reenact a run-in from the stairs to the gifts.  We have to reenact this because now that we’re older, we all wake up at different times.  The run-in usually results in a lot of pushing, shoving, screams and tons of laughs.  I also love that John’s parents go to the effort of getting a kosher turkey for dinner.  His mom even makes me the mashed potatoes dairy free (the rules of kosher do not allow for mixing of meat and dairy in the same meal).  Over the 8 years that John and I have been together, his family traditions of celebrating Christmas have changed as well.  John’s mom used to fill everyone’s stockings with soooooo many gifts that a pillow bag used to accompany the stocking.  His parents have now opted for a family ski trip to Tremblant as the Christmas gift, so the stockings are no longer filled the same way as they once were (with very good reason, but one that John protests every year leading up to the holiday).  We also started doing a Chris-cringle, so we each just buy a gift for one person only.  And of course, we now have Kyle, the only grand-kid on John’s side of the family, who will probably be ripping through the gifts this year, and add another new exciting element to the holiday celebrations (can you say spoiled much?).

The run-in (Kyle's first Christmas at the cottage)

I think the best part is that now as a family, we can make our own (new) family traditions.  I hope that Kyle will look forward to them for many years to come as much as I do.  What are some of your favourite family traditions (new or old) during this time of the year?

* Outdoor obviously.

4 thoughts on “T’is the season of Chrismukkah”

  1. Good job bb! I might have misinterpreted this but I think you’re saying christmas rules? That’s cool. You blog now 🙂

  2. Maya, thanks for following my blog! Motherhood is certainly my biggest and best life adventure and one I’m so grateful to be on. I enjoyed this post too as we’re also looking at family (and cultural) traditions and seeing which ones we want to pass on, which we want to skip, and which activities of our own making we want to turn into traditions. Happy holidays to your family and may all the festivities bring you, your husband, and your DS great joy!

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