I have always celebrated both Christmas and Chanukah because my family is mixed. My parents were interfaith and now my children are being raised by a Jew (me) and a Christian (their dad). So both is how it works for us. I know there is a lot of angst in the more orthodox sections of Jewish faith about all the interfaith marriages, about people leaving but I also know that when you leave the door open and it's a little flexible, sometimes people come *back*. And I, having gone this long, circuitous route from Jewish thought to pagan thinking to Eastern philosophy (and one regrettable stint in the Baptist Church when I was particularly lonely and vulnerable and seeking love and acceptance), now I have come all the way back full circle to where I began. I am a Jew and the Jewish faith is where my heart lies. All of the things I have studied and learned and thought about along the way have informed this choice, made it more heartfelt and truly, rooted in faith, not just mouthing something empty.
This weird journey has taught me that there are a whole lot of paths up the mountain and they're all good, all valid and all worthy of my respect (even when I do not understand them and even when they make me personally a little uncomfortable like my Salvation Army extended family by marriage). I think that it's really smart and good to study from a lot of books, read the teachings of many teachers and that in doing this, you will often find the path that is marked with your name. You will find your path maybe a little clearer, maybe not. It's a highly personal journey.
So yeah. Christmas. Chanukah. Back to the point of this little musing.
We celebrate both. I *love* Christmas. I am definitely more about Santa and Christmas is more about a secular thing than it is about the birth of Jesus (which happened in July anyway) but the things Jesus talked about like, love your neighbor, be nice to each other, don't be a jerk... those are things I can get behind and so Christmas is a nice day to celebrate those principles, even if I don't worship the man who (in this instance) espoused them. I like Jesus. I have no beef with his birthday. I have a tree, we have ornaments and lights and we do it all up. It is meaningful and there are family rituals that we must do every year and it works for us.
I have a feeling that my Chanukah experience is probably going to change a bit, especially because I've come back to my faith and am learning things I didn't know before. What was always special to me is probably going to become meaningful in different ways. I'll let you know as it evolves.
So here is how it breaks down for me basically.
Christmas = being kind, loving and good to each other, friends, family and perfect strangers.
Chanukah = celebration of a miracle and the fact that amazing things can happen unexpectedly.
Today has been a really good mix of the two of those things.
We didn't have the money for a big stack of gifts, but we did what we could and lo and behold, the kids were thrilled. Pronounced it the best one ever. Amazing and unexpected, but they are happy and I don't think it mattered about the size of their gifts. They have been unbelievably kind to each other today, generous and big hearted. The teenager who has been staying with us off and on was able to be with us this morning, when we thought that might be impossible, so there is a little holiday miracle.
For me personally, the day isn't even half over, we haven't even gotten to Chanukah yet, but I am finding my faith affirmed, I am happy and incredibly grateful for all the miracles we have been given today.
It truly is the best day ever, and maybe it is just because I celebrate both but I'm going to go with the theory that Christmas and Chanukah converged this year and the miracles, kindness and good things that both bring are just increased exponentially because of it.
Happiest of holidays, y'all, whatever you celebrate. May it be blessed.