Last week I wrote to you that experiencing Christmas will not destroy your child’s Jewish identity and it won’t. Period. But that still means you have to GIVE them a Jewish identity. Going without Christmas won’t build a Jewish identity; you have to proactively teach your child that they are Jewish. So if you’re hanging stockings and making eggnog don’t assume you can’t have Jewish children. You probably already do.
(Will you be singing Christmas songs? Why not sing one written by a Jew. Like one of these eleven songs!)
What does it mean to be “proactive”?
Let’s start with the obvious and easy – celebrate Shabbat weekly, or as often as you can manage. Put a white tablecloth and flowers on the table. Have candles, wine and challah for the blessings. Pause. I suggest that right before or right after lighting the candles you take a moment to take a deep breath. Smile at your family. These are the people that are at the very center of your life. Rejoice in them. Tell each one something you love about them. Invite them to do the same. Make the meal special. Maybe you’ll have an extra special dinner, maybe you’ll order pizza, what you eat is not as important as how you spend that time together.
I have a friend who has a standard Shabbat Dinner Menu. Yup, she makes the same thing each Friday night. Her kids love it. (Remember, kids can eat the same thing every day and be happy about it!) So don’t angst about the meal. I do encourage you to have fresh challah. You can order it to be delivered. Or you can bake it yourself. Whether you make it by hand, use a breadmaker or buy frozen dough at Safeway, there’s something very special about smelling bread in the oven.
More tips to come…
What Jews do for Christmas
This week one of the writers from the J-weekly asked me to put them in touch with interfaith families who would be willing to share what they are doing for Christmas this year. Look at the article here and see if you can find my two participants.
Now, find at least two things to be happy about. Email me what they are if you are willing to take a moment, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are my two for you:
I’m creating handmade cards for my mother-in-law who is so far away and lives alone. She likes to keep them and use them as bookmarks.
I’m about to make persimmon cookies!
Let’s really make the most of this holiday month. It’s been a hard year and we aren’t out of the woods yet. May I offer you a cocktail?