Multicultural Celebrations – Hanukkah and Christmas

I am prone to many anxious moments when time is of the essence and everything needs to get done just right. This is particularly the case during the holidays. I want everything to go well. As a multiracial, multicultural family, at every bend, starting October, there is a celebration a.k.a stressor, just waiting to get the better of me.  Here is a list of days we celebrate between October and December.

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To read my celebrations of Canadian Thanksgiving and Diwali in Part 1 and Part II, please click the highlighted links.

I have almost always had my in-laws visiting us around American Thanksgiving so my mother-in-law takes on all of the cooking responsibilities and I get to relax a little or at least manage my anxieties better.

Hanukkah is a celebration that we look forward to each year. We light our Menorah and sing in Hebrew (Aaron sings. I try to sing, TJ claps or observes quietly and tries to join in wherever he can). This year, we bought him his own kippa and he looked absolutely adorable wearing it.

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Green Suede 6″ Sports Kippah with Basketball and Soccer motives – JEWISH KIPPOT

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year was the first time he got to consciously experience the lighting of the menorah. His aunty and uncle sent him a gorgeous fire truck menorah and even though we have two other traditional ones, this is the one we light every Hanukkah now. I still remember the big smiles on his face from last year as each of the candles atop his fire engine got lighted. He enjoyed playing the dreidel game with his cousins and grandpa over Skype too.

This year, we had his cousins, uncle, and aunty with us for the majority of the days of Hanukkah and it was fun to do this together with all of them and us. On the first day, I made a roast, matzoh ball soup, and latkes, served with store-bought Challah bread.

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Baby E ate all of these foods and really enjoyed her first Hanukkah meal.

We even did a little Hanukkah art the day before: IMG_20161224_075344_983.jpg

As for presents, TJ got a book, I’m Dirty!:
…and because I wanted to be the one to introduce my girl to a doll, Baby E got a curvy Barbie – Barbie Fashionistas Doll 27 Sweetheart Stripes – Curvy which she does not care for much. She’d much rather play with her brother’s trains and trucks. 

I love celebrating festivals with family.

Growing up, celebrating festivals was a family and neighborhood event so we always had a lot of people around Diwali. Aside from the religious aspect of the festival, we made and/or bought sweets and savory snacks to exchange with our neighbors. My dad’s clients would send us baskets of fruits or nuts, boxes of mangoes, sweets, chocolates, and just a variety of delicious things to celebrate the auspicious days of the festival.

Celebrating most of the 8 days of Hanukkah with our family, beyond the four of us, felt really good. We didn’t make a big deal out of it but the feeling of togetherness that TJ got out of it, being surrounded by all of us (even Baby E was awake for one of the lighting), is hopefully a beautiful memory and future reality, he and E will continue to appreciate.

Christmas has traditionally been celebrated at my sister’s. They even have stockings with our names on them! This year, given the distance between us, brought on by our move to the West Coast, we were on our own for the big day. Had Baby E been a little older, we may have visited them but we were just not in the travel space of mind at this time. In the past, I’ve always just had my big sis handle the reigns on that celebration and been the lazy visiting guest at her home. Not this year.

This year, we first needed to shop for a tree. I also needed to bake cookies, look up some special holiday recipes, and essentially think about what rituals I wanted to incorporate into my family’s celebration of this day.

Food was an after thought. Honestly, it just didn’t seem like such a big deal. I know I am always making a big deal about holidays and family traditions but at least the kids are young enough that I still have a few years to make something a “tradition”. How long do you have to be doing something before it becomes your family’s tradition?

Because I had cooked all that food for the first night of Hanukkah just the day before on Christmas Eve, I only made stuffing as a new item and we all enjoyed leftovers as our Christmas meal. The kids didn’t care and Aaron and I were happy not to have too many dishes to clean up after.

I’ll write a more detailed post about our first Christmas as a family of four in a few days.

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