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Dos and Don'ts for Interfaith December Dilemma

by Kathryn Frazier  
6/24/2010 / Holidays

The December Dilemma: You celebrate Christmas, and she celebrates Hanukkah. The holiday season only lasts a few weeks, and you want everything to run smoothly. What to do? If you are in any kind of Jewish/Christian/Messianic interfaith relationship, these do's and don'ts will help you navigate the December Dilemma.

DO decorate different parts of the house. Divide the home (or room), and each of you decorate for your holiday.

DON'T compromise your identity. You both have to give and take to make it work, but not at the expense of who you are. Talk about the traditions that are important to you. Decide what you will and won't celebrate, and how. Listen to the other person, and allow them that same freedom and respect.

DO keep non-religious traditions, like making crafts, baking cookies, or building a fire in the fireplace.

DON'T belittle their traditions, even jokingly. Be secure enough in your identity that you are not threatened by the customs and faith of another.

DO something new. Start a new tradition that you can do together that incorporates the spirit of both holidays. Try stargazing, or working together on a charity.

DON'T start a discussion about the validity of your faith. Holidays are emotionally charged. If you want to get into a theological discussion regarding winter holidays, wait until summer.

DO include special foods from both holidays. The one who celebrates Hanukkah can still enjoy eggnog and peppermint sticks. And the one who celebrates Christmas can still eat potato latkes and chocolate gelt.

DON'T sermonize. If you eat kosher, make sure your hostess knows ahead of time, so she doesn't feel slighted when you say no thank you. But don't try to make her feel guilty for making ham. Offer to bring a dish. If you're the cook, and your family wants something you don't eat, decide early on whether you will be able to prepare it for them without feeling slighted or guilty. If not, plan ahead for someone to pick up non-kosher items from a deli or take-out restaurant.

DO remember the commonalities of the faiths: love, peace, generosity, and good-will. Go the extra mile and do whatever you can to help your loved one have a joyous holiday season.

Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier.
Kathryn lives with her husband and children in Tampa, Florida. It's hot there. And swampy. With gators. She's really brave.

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