Simpler Celebrations: Christmas AND Chanukah?

December 1st, 2010

My son came home from school today and declared himself a poor soul because he only gets Christmas presents, not Christmas AND Chanukah presents, like most of the kids in his class.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “Most?”

“Yes,” he insisted. “There’s only like five of us who just celebrate either Christmas OR Chanukah.”  (And he rattled off the names to prove his point).

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Tonight, December 1st, will see some kids lighting candles and getting the first of their Chanukah presents, while others rip open the doors on the first Advent calendar window to snare some chocolate. And apparently, at least here in Bethesda, a lot of kids enjoying both!

It’s tough enough trying to keep the commercialism of Christmas at bay.  How do parents cope with double the demand for presents: Christmas AND Chanukah?

Apparently my eldest son isn’t alone. My youngest son’s teacher told me at pick-up today that the majority of the four-year-olds are celebrating both holidays as well.

My first inclination was to smile. It seems like just yesterday I was debating inter-faith marriage with my friends (and some boyfriends). Would Jewish-Christian couples really be able to honor both faiths as they raised families? Apparently my generation is making it happen!

But how do families celebrating both holidays focus on the traditions that matter most, without the holidays turning into one huge present-fest?   I’d love to hear from those of you who do celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas. Tell me what you’re doing!

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In our family, we’ve long had the tradition of the Advent calendar. From one for my eldest to one for each kid, to three – with one for DH and I to share – to this year’s splurge of one Advent calendar for each of us – we love it!

We celebrate Advent with the calendar, Christmas story readings after dinner, and now, Jingle Bells and Ode to Joy on the keyboard.

Christmas Day is just the start of a 12 day celebration finished by Epiphany (which regrettably will be celebrated at Children’s Hospital as my son returns to have his appendix removed).

The holidays are a beautiful time of year. Music, candles, stories, delicious treats and more – all make the holiday spirit last a lot longer than a gift ever can.

What do you think?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on “Holidays Without the Hoopla,” running at The Green Parent on Monday, December 6th.  Head on over there then to check all of the posts from the @GreenMoms!

– Lynn

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