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
Chrismukkah Was Born!
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.