Carter Steinberg '22
When people ask me what it’s like to have a Jewish dad and a Christian mother during the holidays, I tell them it’s amazing. My parents raised me primarily Christian, but I always celebrate the Jewish holidays in some fashion with my Dad as well.
I begin every holiday season by lighting the candles on the menorah and singing the prayer associated with Chanukah with my father and sisters. During this time, we make it a point to remember our past loved ones by lighting a separate candle and saying a quiet prayer for them.
One of my fondest memories of Chanukah is going to Florida to celebrate the first night with all of my extended family on my dad's side who we do not usually see. We all ate dinner together in my grandparents’ apartment with all the kids and adults at the same table. We stuffed ourselves with foods such as matzo ball soup, roasted chicken, latkes, and rugala. I can still remember my grandfather making inappropriate jokes and laughing loudly with the rest of the table as I sat slightly confused yet still amused with the other children. This was the only time we ever travelled to Florida for a holiday, and I will never forget it.
For Christmas, we have many typical traditions, some being putting up a Christmas tree, seeing family (which is seeming unlikely this year), decorating cookies, and going to church. Although it may seem odd to celebrate two holidays simultaneously, it is normal for us.
To answer a common question, no, I do not get a full Chanukah and Christmas. Instead of receiving presents every night of Chanukah like the majority of people who celebrate Chanukah, my sisters and I get one gift on either the first or last night. If we have been good, Santa will also leave some gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.
Being primarily Christian, I have countless memories of seeing my extended family on Christmas. December 25th always starts with me and my sisters waking our mom up early. After a few minutes of getting ready, she makes us sit on the steps so she can take the same picture of us that she takes every year. We then head downstairs to open gifts and start snacking on donuts and leftover cookies while we wait for our grandparents. Once they arrive, we sit down for brunch and exchange gifts. After this, we clean up everything as our grandparents leave to make their rounds to our cousins, aunts, and uncles. We then sit around, relax, and listen to christmas music, enjoying it while we still can. Later on in the day, we head to the house of a relative where we see our extended family for a night of food, gifts, and festivities.
I love every part of my strange holiday season, and although it may not seem ideal to everybody, I would not have it any other way. I hope you all have an amazing holiday season, and stay safe!
The Exchanged's Mission Statement
The Exchanged's Comment Policy