Parents Perspective

Celebrating Christmas AND Hanukkah: Are My Kids Going to Be Totally Confused?

santa holding a menorah
A year ago today, my now husband asked me to marry him. I will never forget all of the happiness and joy around the occasion. However, once all of the excitement died down a bit and I found myself buried in copies of Brides and Martha Stewart Weddings, people started asking me what we had decided about our religions. Was I going to convert to Catholicism? Was he going to convert to Judaism? Hadn't we thought about what we were going to do? To think that I had thought the hardest part of this getting married thing was explaining to our New York crew that we could, in fact, have a lovely wedding in the South. We ended up having a spiritual wedding with both Catholic and Jewish elements, which seemed to disappoint everyone equally and was a compromise both of us had happily agreed upon. But even with that behind us, the greater question, more apparent than ever during the holidays, is what the heck we're going to do about our future children.

It's not like we're the only couple in the world that is interfaith. Not many studies are done on families' religious stances, but, in 2008, the Pew Research Center found that over one-quarter of people lived in religiously-mixed households. One can only imagine that this number has grown substantially since then. According to a recent article in PBS, it's not uncommon for interfaith families to pick one religion and stick with it; however, they also interviewed several families who chose to embrace both of their faiths equally. In other words, people are doing all kinds of things and you can really choose your own adventure.

It is tempting to me to invite Santa and Hanukkah Harry to our house every December, but I worry that my kids will get confused. Will they think everyone celebrates a mishmash of holidays? I will say it was truly surprising for me to see the number of books on celebrating both holidays -- someone even made a "Hanukkah and Christmas: Picture Books Featuring Interfaith Celebrations" Pinterest board! (Wait, is everyone already celebrating a mishmash of holidays without me?) I also worry that the meaning behind each holiday will get lost along the way. Hanukkah is actually not that big of a deal to my family, so I'm OK with Santa stealing the show a little bit. but I'm not going to be happy when the Easter Bunny comes knocking at the door during Passover Seder. For every family, the holidays work a bit differently. I guess we're just going to have some growing pains.

Hannah Werthan is an assistant editor at Parents.com. Working at Parents inspires her to talk about having kids all the time, which slightly terrifies her husband.

P.S. These treats are sure to be a hit at any kind of holiday party.

Not-so Frosty the Snowman

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