How We Celebrate Chrismukkah in Our Jewish/Catholic Home

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Ironically, I learned that Santa wasn’t real in the temple when I was eleven years old. It was during an adult service. During the sermon, the Rabbi said something like, “You become the tooth fairy/Santa/etc., then your kids become them, and so on.” I looked at my mom, horrified, with tears in my eyes that she had lied to me for all those years. All the cookies we baked for Santa and all the gifts that were left by the fireplace were indeed my mom. Not Santa. I never truly believed that he would visit a little Jewish girl anyway.

Growing Up 100% Jewish

I grew up in a 100% Jewish household. I went to Sunday school and Monday night school so I could become a bat mitzvah. So did my younger brother. But, we still made cookies on Christmas Eve and left them out with a glass of milk for Santa. Santa would leave us some gifts on the fire place. I’ll never forget when Santa left me the No Doubt cassette tape and a cool smiley face backpack – very 90’s!

We also celebrated Hanukkah, lighting the menorah, having family dinner, and opening one present each night. We celebrated the high holidays and I went to a Jewish sleepover camp every summer for eight years. But, I would consider my family to be extremely reformed and not very religious. We just did the bare minimum and never really “drank the kool-aid” and got super involved with our temples or community. I’m not sure why; it just wasn’t our thing.

I Fell in Love with a Catholic Guy

Years later, in my 20’s, I fell for a handsome blonde Catholic man. My husband Victor comes from an extremely long line of religious family. Even some of his extended family held jobs in the Catholic church. You could imagine how interesting our partnership was to both sides of our extended family. It was an unspoken rule to try and marry within the same religion. But, I don’t like to follow rules. I couldn’t help who I fell in love with.

Chrismukkah Was Born!

So, that’s how we adopted Chrismukkah in our house. A mixture of all the best Christmas and Hanukkah traditions in one awesome holiday. (Yes, I’m aware Seth Cohen on the O.C. created it, so I won’t take credit for it.)
This isn’t groundbreaking stuff here; we haven’t recreated the wheel in any way. Chrismukkah is simple. It’s about honoring the traditions of both holidays. We both knew that it was important to honor the traditions we grew up with and share them with one another. This has become more important as we got married and are now raising a family.

Here’s what Chrismukkah looks like for us:

We have a tree.

It’s funny because this is something I have yet to nail in the eleven years of celebrating. Last year at the store, I called my husband numerous times while trying to pick out ornaments for our tree. It was humorous, I was lost yet again. I always end up buying not enough ornaments, forgetting a tree skirt, or missing another key detail. But the spirit of Chrismukkah is still there and that’s all that matters.

We have a Menorah.

Do we light it every night? I’d be lying if I said yes. But, I love how beautiful it looks on our fireplace mantle. As our son grows up (and the baby on the way), I envision us doing the candles every night for eight nights. I will give my husband credit; he knows the candle prayer in Hebrew and it’s super cute.

We have a Hanukkah party.

This is with my family. For our family, every Jewish holiday consists of the same menu: turkey, brisket, matzo ball soup, challah bread, and mashed potatoes. Of course, Hanukkah would not be complete without potato latkes with applesauce or sour cream on top. If you’ve never tried these, I highly, highly recommend them!

We celebrate Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.

This is with my husband’s family. I look forward to it every year. Although I still haven’t gotten brave enough to eat the ham, I love Christmas Eve. My husband’s family has someone dress up like Santa and surprise all the little kids. Then we all read Twas The Night Before Christmas by the fire. Oh, and I discovered cherry chip cake one Christmas Eve, and it’s the best cake ever.

On Christmas Day, we go to my step-dad’s family party. We eat appetizers, drink the family punch, and play games. It’s another nice tradition to add to Chrismukkah.

We order Chinese food.

We do this on Christmas Day for dinner. The past couple of years, it hasn’t worked out so well, because the restaurant has been so busy, they lost our order. Pro-tip: order early in the day and reheat. We wouldn’t be a half-Jewish family if we didn’t have Chinese food during Christmas.

We sing songs.

We love songs from both holidays. You know the classics – “8 Crazy Nights”, “The Dreidel Song”, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, “Jinglebells”, and “Holly Jolly Christmas”. I should mention that I’m not the best singer. Some say I’m tone deaf, but that doesn’t stop me.

Do we have eight crazy nights?

Well… not exactly. As our kids grow, we’ll definitely do one small present each night like I did as a kid. But, just to make things simple right now, we open gifts on Christmas Day.

What’s Important About Chrismukkah

The holidays are a very important time for me. Not because of the gifts – I think gifts are fun and nice, but they can add a lot of stress to the season. As my family grows and I learn more life lessons, I realize the holiday time is about time with the family and friends I love the most.
Taking time to slow down. To show love, gratitude, and appreciation for one another. To embrace the passed-down holiday traditions and create our own as a family. Although we’re far from religious, we believe in this time of year. The magic is there – if you’re open to seeing it.

For more inspiration on starting your own holiday traditions with your family, check out Avoid the Holiday Hullabaloo and Start Your Own Traditions!

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I’ve lived in 15 different places in 30 years. Growing up in a divorced family, we moved a lot. During the recession, I called many places home. I’ve seen my childhood home go into foreclosure and seen many friends & family experience the same. Home has always been more of a feeling than a place for me, as it had to be during hard times. Most of my family was in the mortgage and real estate industry. I saw them lose their jobs and businesses when the market crashed in 2008. In a matter of a year, several homes that meant a whole lot to me get foreclosed on and bought by someone else. The world as I had known it for 18 years changed pretty much overnight. It was a scary time for me as I was a freshman in college. My mom was in a new relationship with my now step dad, and I wasn’t sure where home was for me. Deep down, I had a very strong desire to live in a space that was all mine for a long period of time. I was sick of moving, sick of struggling, and wanting stability. I knew I had a long way to go before I would be able to afford my own home. I had a lot of growing to do in all aspects of life. I had four years of college to complete, a career to establish and get my credit where it needed to be. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life or Communications degree, to be honest. All I knew was that I wanted to help people in some capacity. Everything came into focus for me when I was 22 and almost done with college. I was searching for a new job & came across an opportunity at a boutique real estate office in downtown Royal Oak. I went in for the interview and got the position on the spot. I also enrolled in my real estate licensing class, took the exam, and got licensed. I knew this opportunity to learn the business inside and out was my ticket to making a career for myself. I knew a career into real estate could have the potential to change my life and help me help others. It was redemption for me after what my family went through in 2009. Finally, I was taking control of something that turned my world upside down. I also knew that real estate was in my blood! I was only at that job for about a year, as it wasn’t the right environment for me to succeed. I moved on to a career in real estate, which inspired me to create Higher Living Real Estate. I got married in 2017 and we were finally in a place to take the ultimate risk and buy our first home in 2018! We’re expecting our first child this fall. House hunting took a lot of convincing on my part to my husband, Vic. He thought we should stay in our rental that we’d had for seven long years. and save more money. He worried that we would get in over our heads. I was fearful too, I mean I had seen people I love lose everything. I didn’t want to lose everything I had worked for. But something inside me said f*ck fear and to go for it, you’re ready! So, that’s exactly what we did. We got our pre-approval, had the money for the down payment, and found the home that we wanted to buy. On my 29th birthday, we closed on our first home. It was an experience that changed our life. It had been almost 15 years since I was in a home that was not a rental or roommate situation. My husband and I now have something that is ours, that we can paint and design the way we like. We can have friends and family over and entertain. These were all things I thought were super far away for me. Now, we’re expecting our first child, we’ve started to think about getting a larger house. We know we're going to grow out of this house soon. It’s scary to think that the home we worked so hard for and are finally settled in won’t be our forever home. But, we know that there’s something out there that will be big enough for us & the family we want to have in the coming years. Let's be honest, the journey to start a family is scary enough. The thought of selling our first home & buying something new on top of it all can be a lot to handle. Taking a financial risk coupled with balancing a family is difficult, but I choose to not let fear define me. Having been through that leap recently myself, I know exactly how you’re feeling. I know what petty arguments you’re having with your partner. I know what it takes to get through the process as quick & seamless as possible!

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