December 21, 2006
Fry the latkes, try the gingerbread
Allowing Jewish kids to enjoy Christmas glitz isn't a problem
(Page 2 - Previous Page)We don't have to put up a tree or sing carols or give them eight presents for eight nights, but we can let them know that we know how it looks from down there.
The received wisdom for Jewish parents is not to dilute, pollute or mix traditions. Christmas is such a joy bully, if you let any of it in the door, Chanukah will be blown out the window. But just as Republicans don't own family values, Christians haven't appropriated winter gladness and glitter.
An alternative to Christmaphobia is to be relaxed and expansive. We don't want the children to be ashamed of their longing or to have to hide their pleasure. Instead, let's call a magnificent holiday a magnificent holiday, and let our minor holiday be minor. Have a festive Chanukah party, but think about making a gingerbread house, driving around to look at the decorations, choosing your favorite house. Serve eggnog and decorate cookies at home.
As Jews, we have the freedom to selectively appreciate this holiday. We are spared some of the frenzied shopping countdown and can enjoy the visions, the aromas and the lights that are so welcome at this dark and chilly time of year. We can share with our children all the pleasure the season has to offer and protect them from feeling ashamed about it. That is a gift they can keep and pass down to our grandchildren.
This article appears courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Wendy Mogel is a clinical psychologist. She is the author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teaching to Raise Self-Reliant Children." She is currently writing a book for parents of teenagers, "The Blessing of a B Minus."
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