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jeet? no. jew?*

With the Master’s degree pretty much over and done with (or, as I told my friend Jennie the other day, “It was time to put that bitch to rest,”), I am all set to dive into holiday stuff.

I have this emotional quirk that doesn’t allow me to enjoy things if I have some stressful thing looming over my head. So, even though I started listening to Christmas music weeks ago and busted out the It’s a Wonderful Life and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation DVDs embarrassingly early, I was really holding back my excitement for this time of year until Tuesday’s presentation was firmly in the past.

As I’ve mentioned, this year I’m really into Christmas because it means lots of time to hang out with my family and the end of a year that’s been kind of shitty. And I’m sorry to brag, but my family is rad as hell. So, this weekend, I’m hoping to finish some cleaning and decorating projects and perhaps get our tree.

Our celebration of Christmas is very secular. The husband is an atheist. I’m comfortably unsure, though definitely very happy without an organized religion. And the baby…well, the one thing that we feel strongly about is that he’s too young to really ponder the enormity of things like faith and existence, so assigning him our choice of religion (or lack thereof) is inappropriate. And so we’re kind of just waiting for him to ask us questions.

Anyway, all of this is to say that our version of Christmas marches alongside the traditional version and looks much the same, but we center it around different things. And, really, I think inventing new traditions, borrowing from what came before you and shaping it into something new and good is pretty rad.

In our sporadic discussions of religion, we’ve told the baby that we (or at least I) would be happy to explore options if he were ever interested. Last night, he asked us about the possibility of celebrating Hanukkah.

I was all for it, noting that we might need to get a few things and figure out generally what one does during the Festival of Lights. “I’ll look it up on Wikipedia,” I promised, knowing that I needed to fill in the holes of what I knew…dreidel…oil…latkes…8 days.

I knew that Hanukkah was coming up but I was kind of surprised to find that the whole thing starts tonight, leaving me literally no time to obtain a menorah and whatnot.

So, there’s us. Lapsed Catholics, failed Jews. Story of my life.

I think we might still improvise the whole thing, just to get a feel for it. Then next year we’ll firm it up a bit.

*A common exchange amongst speakers of Pittsburghese. Translates to: “Did you eat yet?” “No. Did you?” Has been adapted to become the name of a local eatery.

6 comments to jeet? no. jew?*

  • This is totally how we plan to approach religion with our kid. It’s cool to actually see [read about] it in action.

  • Amie

    You can make a potato menorrah! Carve holes in potatoes! Pieces of potatoes that you saved from when you were grating them to make the latkes. Put the potatoes in a row! That can be tonight’s menorah, and then the next one can be different (because while the oil might’ve lasted 8 days in the story, I doubt the little potato hulls will)

  • Heck, if you’ve got candles and a little wisdom from the internet you’re good to get started I’d think.

    My friend, Leon, writes a great blog about how he’s come to find the practice for his Judaism with his family. You could check that out if you want: http://www.torahdinner.com/etone/

  • I was raised Catholic and always wanted to be Jewish, I think because we talked a lot in school about how Jesus was Jewish (it seems like they harped on it, in retrospect, in fact) and had a seder before Easter which I always dug.

    Now, just boring old lapsed, but I like Christmas. And I like to think I’d use the same approach if I had a kid. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.

  • One year Jeffrey Andrew David came home from school crying to my sister saying it wasn’t fair Jewish kids got presents for 8 days and he only got them for one. And then got an attitude with his mother blaming her because he wasn’t Jewish.
    We still tease him about it every year.

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