Sunday, January 5, 2014

An Interfaith Celebration ... So It Seems

SIL got stockings for all of us including the two cats. SIL found one very special stocking which we gave to Commuter Husband. Can you tell which stocking is NOT like the rest? AND, can you identify the reason it is pointing right to left? 
Commuter Husband and I do not think of ourselves as an Interfaith family. However, we are.

Commuter Husband chose the Jewish faith years before I met him - around age 30. As a teenager, he had abandoned the notion of his Catholic upbringing. When we decided to marry in 1995, I agreed to raise any offspring as Jewish because I knew I was not going to move forward in the Baptist faith of my childhood. After four years of study and soul searching, I also converted to Reform Judaism. In August 1999, I plunged under the mikvah waters when six weeks pregnant with Oldest Son - the timing was perfect.

Our home has always been and is Reform Jewish. Neither Commuter Husband nor I have clung to any of the Christian traditions we experienced while growing up. Both of Commuter Husband's parents are deceased as well as my mother and my father is not in the picture. Consequently (and sadly), there are no grandparent influences to integrate. Other extended family members are gracious, loving, respectful and accepting of our Jewish life; however they are not engaged in our Jewish traditions.

Thus I am back to the first short paragraph. Our family unit of four is focused on our Jewish life which we share with the Jewish friends, teachers and community around us. And there is seldom the pull of interfaith interaction with extended family. It is worth noting that the boys' adopted grandmother in Dallas does share coloring and hunting Easter eggs and making Christmas gingerbread houses with them every single year which we love dearly - her and the traditions.

However, this past Christmas presented an opportunity. My Brother and Sister-in-Law (SIL) generously invited us to Seattle for Christmas. Oldest Son and Youngest Son had never experienced a Christmas morning!

Preparations for the visit included some educational conversations. First, my Youngest Niece, age 9, expected Santa Claus and his reindeer to visit. Oldest Son and Youngest Son were educated on cookies for Santa, oats for reindeer and filled stockings Christmas morning. Honestly, trying the explain the connection between Santa and the birth of Jesus was challenging but we discussed the spirit of Christmas and the associated traditions of celebration to honor the meaning of the holiday and time with family.

So on December 24th, Commuter Husband helped SIL prepare a scrumptious Christmas Eve dinner and the kids each opened one gift from under the tree while Christmas tunes played joyfully. Cookies were baked for Santa. Oldest Nephew led the kids in a hilarious chorus of Feliz Navidad - over and over ...

Christmas morning excitement included the discovery of unwrapped gifts from Santa and opening the many brightly wrapped packages under the tree. Breakfast tacos filled our bellies. Then the day was spent playing with gifts and relaxing with family.
Table is set for Christmas Eve dinner.

Youngest Son, Youngest Niece and Oldest Niece read the letter that Santa left!
I am thankful we were able to share the Christmas traditions of my Brother's family. We want Oldest Son and Youngest Son to be exposed to many belief choices and respect the countless ways people choose to celebrate their spirituality. 

Perhaps a small bit of interfaith crept in ...
Youngest Niece painted this tile, wrapped it and put it under the tree for me - LOVE.

No comments:

Post a Comment