In my book, the holiday season is the best time of year to be Jewish. We celebrate Chanukah, but it is a minor Jewish holiday and doesn’t dominate a month of our lives. It is also not commercialized enough to drown out what we do as a family to mark the holiday.
Every year I see people feeling so much pressure to buy things and make things and decorate and create the perfect magical Christmas atmosphere, but they don’t have time to feel peaceful. At the moms’ groups people are always so stressed out.
It’s easy for me to explain to my kids that many people celebrate Christmas, while we celebrate Chanukah. I think it would be more difficult to try to teach children the true meaning of Christmas when your holiday is being used as a vehicle to push consumer spending.
Some conservatives get mad when store employees say “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” I don’t get the manufactured outrage about the alleged “war on Christmas.” Do they want everyone to think Christmas is all about jolly Santa and decorated trees and dancing reindeer?
This is an open thread for discussing anything you do to make the season meaningful, or at least reduce your stress level.
One friend has a ritual of going through the playroom with her kids before Christmas to pick toys to give away. No one gives away a treasured possession, but all the kids are expected to choose a few things no one plays with anymore, which can go to kids who need them.
Another friend is having a “clothing swap” party before Christmas to inspire us to finish cleaning out our closets. Women will bring clothes they don’t wear, or which don’t fit anymore. Other women can take them home if they like them. The extra clothes will go to charity after the party.
Another friend told me his family became inspired by the Hundred-Dollar Christmas idea a few years ago and now mostly exchanges hand-made or reused gifts.
Feel free also to discuss your favorite things about the holiday season or recommend your favorite holiday music. We mostly listen to Chanukah music, but I do enjoy the Klezmonauts’ Christmas album “Oy to the World”. Click the link to listen to samples of Christmas songs performed in the klezmer (“Jewish jazz”) style.