December Celebrations Across America
This month, on A Cookie Before Dinner, we’re featuring four guests who all have a different take on navigating the holiday season. Some families celebrate Christmas without Santa. Some families blend holiday traditions. Some families celebrate Hanukkah, while others have interfaith families that celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. However we celebrate, one thing is for sure– we celebrate love and joy with our families and friends.
The Season of Light
I love Christmas lights. Ever since I was a child, I have looked forward to seeing the darkness of night turn into a glorious wonderland with the “tis the season” glow. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood; however the two corner houses that welcomed you onto our street happened to both celebrate Christmas and always put on quite the display. Now to be perfectly honest, I am not a huge fan of the red/green combo, but the white lights–oh my gorgeousness. I love them!
In my childhood home, my parents had modest “decorations.” No Hanukkah Bush to be found nor strings of lights attached to our garage. However, we always had an electric menorah (which I inherited) and a couple beautiful candle menorahs. Together, as a family we would eat dinner and then light the candles at sundown. Singing the prayer together and then shouting “Happy Hanukkah” kissing and hugging each other and then exchanging gifts.
I had friends of different faiths and there was always a part of me that envied the excitement around Christmas time. I remember thinking to myself that when I had a family of my own, I would make a point to create excitement and joy around our traditions. Just as my parents had done for my brother and me. We each received eight gifts every single year until we were married with children. Pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself.
So, fast forward, I am a Mama to my two precious boys and although baby Skye is not talking yet, he is certainly soaking up everything around him. And, Jonah is as inquisitive as they get. “Mama- why don’t we celebrate Christmas?” “But, I want to do Christmas AND Hanukkah.” “Who is Santa?” “Do we have a Santa?”
This was the first year he had even mentioned Christmas or shown an interest in a different holiday. He attends a Jewish Pre-School and as a result is predominantly around Jewish children. He learns about our heritage, traditions, & culture and is very excited and proud of his background. However, he is also four years old and is enticed by the lights, decorations and overall hype of Christmas.
I explained to him that everyone has a choice and everyone is allowed to choose what they believe in. In Judaism, we celebrate Hanukkah and many other beautiful and meaningful holidays.
When he showed an interest and minor disappointment that we would not be celebrating Christmas, I wanted to find out exactly what he felt he was missing out on by celebrating Hanukkah instead. What I came to find out was that he too loves Christmas lights (shocker! He’s my son) and the excitement of decorating the house.
Once I realized that, I told him “we will also decorate our house and you will help me!” I then proceeded to tell him how we get to light candles for eight nights in a row and get presents each and every night. And, although I didn’t want to place too much emphasis on the gift factor, he is four years old and loves getting presents. I also told him that Christmas is a very big holiday for those who celebrate it and we can share in the joy of others, always promoting peace, love and happiness regardless of religion.
We started a tradition of collecting Menorahs and lightning all the menorahs each night creating our own Hanukkah wonderland. We have Menorah’s from our wedding, childhood, and from Jonah. Holidays are more than religion, more than food, and more than decorations. Holidays are about celebrating family, sharing traditions, creating memories and being together. So, regardless of what people choose to do, in our home and in our children’s eyes, we choose love.
My name is Natalie Sager, the Modern Hippie Mama and I am bringing Hippie back! The name of my company is HeWeLoHa Wellness. HeWeLoHa is a groovy acronym for Health, Wealth, Love and Happiness. My main goal is to educate, inspire and empower Mamas to take control of their health.
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