At this time of year I think back to my very first Christmas.
I was 26 years old.
You see I was raised in a Jewish home. A home in which, each year, I would celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.
Each night I would look forward to presents that ranged from underwear and socks to books and pens. We would also get larger presents, such as a record player, jewelry or clothing.
In my family, we were given one present for each of the right nights.
Each night we would enjoy traditional Chanukah foods to represent the oil that burned for eight nights instead of just one.
Our nightly delights would include latkes (potato pancakes), donuts and more.
At temple, at home and in Hebrew school my siblings and I also learned of the history and stories behind Chanukah.
I knew what to expect, I was raised on this.
But then I married a man who celebrates Christmas.
He did not celebrate Christmas for the religious reasons that one might expect. He celebrated because it is a tradition that his family adopted when they moved to America and his parents felt bad that he had nothing to celebrate.
Then we had a baby and it was time to figure out what The Ho Family tradition would be.
The hubby and I decided that we would show our family both traditions and let it develop from there. This is when I celebrated my first Christmas.
I thought about my Christmas experiences from year’s past such as decorating Christmas trees at friends homes (and all of the presents under the tree) and I coupled that with what I had seen on TV (and all of the presents under the Christmas tree).
The result was a plethora of overspending and more presents than our wee one could possibly ever need, or even know what do with.
So I learned…each year as our family expanded our traditions continued, developed and made perfect sense for us.
Our children still get Chanukah presents and they also get Christmas presents. We honor all traditions, speak of our history, appreciate the spirit of caring for loved ones and are grateful for all of the wonderful people, experience and things that make us each our own unique selves.
It is interesting to see the changes in our holidays now that my first Christmas is long in the past.
Opening presents does not take as long.
The time, money and effort spent finding what we hope is the perfect present is appreciated on a whole different level.
Figuring out what the right present is has become much harder.
The joy when you hit the nail on the head is still so very gratifying. Instead of the hubby and I making all of the food, we plan and cook together as a family. The kids also now give both Chanukah and Christmas presents. I love seeing the effort that they put into finding, or making, the perfect gift.
This year I started looking at new tree skirts so that when each child moves out, and begins their own traditions, they have a tree skirt of their own that has family history attached to it. They will also get ornaments of their choosing plus I know what they will each get from our Chanukah collection. I cannot believe that our babies are no longer babies but I am just as grateful as that very first Christmas.