Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tradition!




My husband and I decided that we are not going to raise our children religiously. He is Christian and I am Jewish. We both have a strong connection to the rituals we were raised with and still both feel religious. We just decided that the religion part wasn't for kids. We want to offer all of the traditions we were raised with and for us that is what works. When our daughter grows up she can choose to follow whatever religion interests her, but in the meantime she has all of the fun stuff to enjoy along the way.

We celebrate holidays together. If a holiday has a song we sing it. We have Rosh Hashanah and together go down to the beach for Tachlich. Thanksgiving we alternate between our families for the usual turkey and stuffing. Chanukah, we light candles and have friends over for a latka party. Christmas Eve we spend with my husbands family eating all different fun foods and then doing a secret Santa gift exchange. Christmas day we have dinner with the whole family. New Years eve we bang pots and pans like my grandmother did with me when I was little. No one one either side is Irish, but my dad used to send me to school with a green bagel, so if I could have found one last week she could have tried it. Maybe next year.

This time of year is Purim and friend invited us to a little carnival at her kids preschool. It was pretty lame, and I remembered why there were parts of this holiday that freaked me out. The story of Purim was added to the Jewish religion much later (just like Chanukah) and something about it is a bit off. There is a bad man named Haman, and once he was beheaded the tradition began of making cookies shaped like his ear to remember he was defeated by the Jewish people. I guess along the way people might have thought that was too upsetting for small children and turned the ear into his hat. Either way, yikes! This isn't so much what I remember about it though. I remember going to my best friend's house and making Hamantachen with her and her mother. She had the best recipe and it was so much fun to make the triangles and pinch the corners. I decided to make them with my Twig and it was really sweet to see her enjoying it the way I did.

About once a month we have a traditional Shabbat dinner here too, and together my daughter and I bake Challah. She gets her own piece of dough and gets to put as many raisins in hers as she wants. Easter is coming soon and she will get to play with her cousins, have Easter dinner and find candy out in the yard. Passover, we make a seder with family. Each year new traditions get added on. This year I threw some chocolate and almonds into the Hamantachen, and our seder will now include my sister in law and her boyfriend's family who I'm sure will bring their own Passover twists to the seder. At times the lines between religion and traditions can blur and then we have to respect each other, and find a comfortable medium to make our own while respecting what each of us brings with us from our pasts. When we get to that place together it can feel pretty spiritual after all.

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