Thursday, November 18, 2010

December Dilemma

Yael: Why don't we celebrate Christmas? Everyone else gets to go to Santa's house.

Sam: Because we're Jewish, not Christian!

Okay, I must admit to being totally shocked by this conversation. Let's remember that the children involved are ages THREE and FIVE (newly minted five, by the way), they frankly don't know a lot of non-Jews in their lives, and I can't remember ever even saying the word "Santa"...ever?

Okay, so why the "dilemma"?

I didn't want to say - we don't need Christmas, we have Chanukah! Truthfully, I don't really think that way.

This, to me, is the big dilemma of the season. I'm not interested in offering my kids an "alternative" to Christmas. I'm just interested in living my ordinary Jewish life. It doesn't mean that I'm not acknowledging the "season" that never seems to quiet's impossible to ignore. But I've never felt a need to start making comparisons or justifications...


EdibleTorah said...

Recently Julie Silver posted on her Facebook page:

"You keep talking about a "December Dilemma" and it's just going to keep on existing. Get it?"

While it is trite and over-repeated (and here I go repeating it again) the best child-appropriate explanation I've ever heard was about birthdays:

"I have a birthday, and so does everyone else I know. When I go to someone else's birthday party, I don't get mad that nobody is acknowledging mine. It's not my birthday. When people sing "Happy Birthday" at their party I don't get mad that they don't also sing "Yom Huledet Sameach". The same goes for Christmass. It's a beautiful holiday - just like Ramadan, Deevali, and a host of other celebrations. I can love and appreciate everything about it without it needing to be mine, and without people needing to celebrate my holiday for my benefit."

Phyllis Sommer said...

That is a very good explanation. Thanks!

techelet said...

Hey, I love that explanation. I may have to repost that in my own recent blog entry on the "December Dilemma".

homeshuling said...

You know, I was just thinking about this topic and how my kids, who have a very rich Jewish life, still seem to divide their immediate world by those who celebrate christmas and those who celebrate chanukah. I realized that it's not that their understanding of judaism is shallow, it's that their udnerstanding of christianity is. (which is not a good thing, but at least doesn't make me feel like a failure.)

Plutogirl said...

The reason there is no December Dilemma is that late December is everyone's holiday. The reason for the season is the Winter Solstice, the original December celebration. All of us live on Earth, so it "belongs" to all of us; for those in the Southern Hemisphere, it's the Summer Solstice. Humanity desperately needs to get back in touch with the rhythms of nature and honor them. We are part of the Earth, not separate from it. Dissocating from nature has led humanity to a dangerous environmental precipice. The Sun returns for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and we all have the right to honor and celebrate it.