The holidays can be really tough on couples, whether you are celebrating the same religions or not. For Ginger and I, the holidays are colored by trying to figure out this interfaith family we have created. Ginger was raised Jewish, and I’m converting. On the Hanukkah side of things, the holidays are really exciting to me. It’s a time to explore my new faith and culture with the yummiest fried foods and big roasts. Christmas was always about food and cooking for me growing up, and it’s a pretty easy switch to put that energy into latkes, prime rib, and rugelach. Hanukkah, like New Year’s, is our holiday, just the two of us and our friends.
Last year, we finally forged the holiday compromise: Thanksgiving would be with Ginger’s family, and Christmas would be with my parents. It was so hard to make that compromise- Thanksgiving would never be the same for me. For Ginger, Christmas had to be celebrated every year, something she had tried hard to avoid her whole life. It seemed so difficult that the hard stuff had to end with the compromise, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. Every year still brings with it little deaths and little births. A new family tradition for Hannukah, followed by the reminder that Christmas music wouldn’t be appropriate to play in our Jewish home. “Silent Night,” my childhood lullaby, doesn’t fit into my home life anymore. And, the smell of an evergreen won’t ever be welcoming me back from a long, winter day.
Then Christmas comes, and we fly to be with my parents. It’s like being a visitor at a Christmas celebration, it’s wonderful, but it isn’t ours. We have a Jewish home, and yet, an interfaith family. We dug through the emotions that come with each holiday season this year by attending my conversion class together, and then hashing out our feelings over bagels and lox. I don’t think this will be that last challenging holiday, but talking it over seems to help.