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December 04, 2009

Jewish Families and the Christmas Season

Chanukah I've lived my entire life in the New York metropolitan area, so it was often easy to forget that Jews are a small minority in the United States. However, every December, no matter where you live, Christmas takes over our country and it is difficult to not feel left out.

Jewish parents have built up Chanukah to try to give their kids a semblance of Christmas. However, Chanukah is a minor holiday in the Jewish religion and the only benefit of doing this is to have a holiday near Christmas to give gifts. The rest of the Christmas trappings are still missing. A menorah and dreidel are no match for Christmas trees, songs, lights, TV specials and more.

The Jewish calendar makes it even more difficult to turn Chanukah into a substitute Christmas. Every year I would look at the calendar and hope that Chanukah would fall in late December. I would always dread when it arrived at the beginning of the month. It would mean remembering to start the holiday shopping before all of the ads and displays came out. Even though that meant less crowded stores, it was difficult seeing all of the sales and gift recommendation lists come out after we were done. It also meant being done with our festivities while the holiday season was still in full swing every where else.

When my kids were younger, December was the only month of the year where they envied their Christian friends. One son had a good friend that celebrated both holidays because of a mixed marriage. He thought that was the greatest thing in the world and swore that he would marry a Christian girl himself so he could have that.

Ironically, now that my kids are away in college, we are actually forced to wait until Christmas vacation to celebrate Chanukah, no matter when it falls. It is kind of sad not having the kids around when I light the menorrah (I won't delay that). But at least I get to shop during the Christmas season now. And then on Christmas day we will probably do what Jews nationwide do on Christmas, go to the movies and eat Chinese Food.

Original 50-something Moms Blog Post by Jennifer Wagner who also writes at the New York Examiner and Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology

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