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My First Christmas Was When I was 26

Disclaimer: Elise Ho, aka “Dr. Ho” is a Holistic Health & Life Coach. Dr. Ho is NOT a medical doctor, licensed therapist, lawyer, or a bevy of other things. Products or services that Dr. Ho believes in are the only ones that she recommends. Dr. Ho may receive compensation, product, or an affiliate commission on anything you see on this site. This is a personal Website solely reflecting Dr. Ho’s personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of any organization with which I may be affiliated.

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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.

I wish to each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas! Please do share your holiday story in the comments below.

Please use the comment section below to share your tips, questions, and/or thoughts about this post.

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Naturally Yours,
Elise Ho
Ph.D., D.N. Psych.
Behavioral & Mental Health Specialist

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26 thoughts on “My First Christmas Was When I was 26”

  1. I loved learning how you came to have your Christmas and thank you for sharing the link to the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah, I actually had a Jewish born Grandfather who was adopted into a Catholic Family. But I love to learn more about that part of my Heritage

  2. My Christmas are very very quiet. My sons that are available come for Christmas eve and that way they are free for their wives family for Christmas. My one son is single so he hangs with me. Its different but we enjoy it now that were use to it.

  3. I am particularly keen on your first pics. It makes me think a lot. Moreover, I love the way you show your meaningful message to people. Thanks.

  4. Hi Elise

    Thanks for sharing that pic……lovely, so cute. A great story.

    Its a great way to celebrate the best of both the worlds. You must have had great memories. No doubt, memories lasts for lifetime.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Hi there Elise,

    Wow what an interesting way to celebrate the best of both worlds! I love traditions and I think it’s important to provide ways for children to remember happy memories. They certainly will have great memories with the ornaments and Chanukah collection you give them when they leave the house. Beautiful! You’re a great mom.

    Take care,

    1. Lillian, thank you for the lovely compliment. I always strive to be the best parent that I can possibly be. I so agree that we want to provide our children with wonderful memories to carry them through the future.

  6. Hi Elise,

    What an interesting and charming article. Gosh – when I’m worrying about having to find ONE Christmas gift per person, next year, I shall think of you choosing yours, plus eight Chanukah gifts for everyone.

    Time flies – and this year for the first time I welcomed my elder “baby” back for Christmas with his own little family -18months and 3 and a half. So lovely to relive all the old stories like we did when he and his brother were little.

    Have a great 2016,


    1. It is a whole lot of presents to buy although we keep tweaking how we handle this as the kids get older and their desires change.

      I love that your baby came home. I also completely understand calling him your baby even though he is fully grown with a baby of his own. Mazel Tov

  7. Hello Elise, What a great story and I just loved the picture you shared.. How Sweet! It is amazing how fast our children grow up HUH?

    Great idea with the tree skirts! I saved every ornament I boys made me over the years and when they moved out they both received a box with everything in them for Christmas.

    It is fun going now to visit and seeing everything again. Such great memories.

    Wishing you an Awesome new year Ahead My Friend.
    God Bless
    Chery :))

    1. Hi Chery, thank you so very much. The kids really do grow up fast. It is an interesting time in my kids lives where I need to allow them to be adults but I still want to baby them.

      I am super excited about the tree skirt idea and hope to figure out some wonderful ones. I think it is such a nice idea to kick off their own holiday celebrations with the box of ornaments and other sentimental items.

      Happy New Year to you.

  8. Hi Elise,
    Love you little once, miss the time when my boys were these age…so cute!
    Thank you for sharing your story, it’s great that you guys figured it out so it works for everyone. My husband and I have our own tradition that is a combination of Canadian & Bulgarian way and we stick to it 🙂
    It’s important to enjoy your family.
    Happy Holidays!

    1. I miss that age too… I now have two in college and one is a junior in high school. Time goes fast which makes it that much more important to cherish each day and each moment. I would love to hear more about your tradition, if you care to share.

  9. Pingback: Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

  10. Erika Mohssen-Beyk

    Hi Elise,
    I like this story, it is a nice example
    how we can celebrate events even if it
    is from another tradition. We always can learn
    from it and enjoy. I am married to a man who did not
    celebrate Christmas and came from another
    tradition, but for our kids, we did celebrate and now
    for our grandkids. I think it is always best to have to
    have a good time together. I like the pictures of you
    Thank you

    1. Thank you so very much. We can create new traditions, honor our own traditions and enjoy other people’s traditions. All it takes is an open mind and a willingness to learn from the bumps along the way.

  11. Hi Elise
    Thank you for that lovely article about how you and your family celebrate both holidays. The only thing I know about Jewish traditions is from a group of ladies who where giving classes in baking Challah or hallah a traditional Jewish bread eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. I was in cooking school at the time and I really enjoyed the class.
    Our local radio announcer also celebrates both holidays and I enjoy hearing about how his family enjoys both celebrations. PS What a lovely pic of your children, and I liked how you were making tree skirts for each to have as their own. Happy holidays!

    1. I think that it is lovely that you took a class and learned to bake Challah. I think it is so fun to hear about different ways that people celebrate this season, and many others. Thank you for visiting my blog and for the comment about my wee ones. Happy New Year!

  12. Hi Elise,
    What an adorable picture of your “babies” so cute … they grow up so fast don’t they, and carve their own ways, right? Having only one, I hope we have passed on some traditions – my favorite being wrapping small gifts in aluminum foil in honor of my mother. She could not afford to buy wrapping paper so that’s what she used … thank you for sharing. Must have been a tad confusing in the beginning to blend traditions but it all worked out …

    1. Thank you. I love our first Christmas photo. 🙂 It certainly was confusing in the beginning. We absolutely had some missteps (including Herbrew School for the kids which was a completely wrong decision for us) but are so pleased with how it has all worked out.

      Thank you for sharing your aluminum foil history. I love to hear how these touches become part of the landscape of our traditions. I have no doubt that your son will hold many memories and traditions near to his heart as he continues to grow and find his own way.

      Merry Christmas.

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About The Author

Dr. Elise Ho

Dr. Elise Ho

Dr. Elise Ho is a Holistic Health & Life Coach with a special interest in emotional health, life alignment, and energy flow.

Elise will partner with you to align your mindset, your energy, your home and your career so that you can live your life's desire with freedom and love.

Elise offers 30 years of experience and multiple certifications and degrees including a Ph.D. in Natural Health and a doctoral degree in Naturopathic Psychology.