Being an Interfaith Family at the Holidays

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For our family, the holidays bring menorahs, Christmas stockings, gingerbread houses, dreidels and Santa Claus all mixed together. I grew up Catholic and my husband is Jewish — as a result, our kids have a little bit of an identity crisis.┬áLuckily, we live in an area where there are a lot of families who celebrate their differences on many levels beyond religion, too, so this isn’t such a foreign concept.

When I was growing up, we were never a go-to-church-every-week kind of family. Sure, I went to Sunday school as a kid and made my confirmation. But Christmas — and all the major holidays — represented a time to gather at my parents’ house for some homemade Italian cooking (no one can come close to my mom’s lasagna!) and laugh with family and friends, many of whom are not Catholic. In fact, for many years we were outnumbered by our wonderful friends who celebrate holidays other than ours! Their presence at our family gatherings actually became a huge part of our Christmas traditions, and still continues to this day.

So, this weekend my husband carried home our Christmas tree and I set out the menorah. We’ll continue to mix it up and celebrate both as long as we can before the kids ask too many deep questions we’re not quite ready to answer. I’m still not sure they need to choose one religion over the other now, or at any point in their lives. Maybe they’ll choose something entirely different when they’re older! For now, we plan to celebrate and teach them about both of our holidays, and stress the importance of kindness, love, family and friends — no matter what the religion.

Are you an interfaith family? Did you choose one religion for your child? How do you celebrate the holidays?