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Multi-Faith Christmas Traditions | Multi-Faith Hanukkah Traditions | Multi-Faith Holidays

How to keep the fun in holiday traditions.

By Ceridwen Morris |

Holiday Gift Overload

How to keep the fun in holiday traditions.

by Rebecca Odes & Ceridwen Morris

December 16, 2009



My husband is Jewish and I’m Catholic so we have a lot of holiday celebrations at our house. The celebrating part is great, but the piles of gifts for the kids is ridiculous. I’m sure my husband (although he hasn’t said it) doesn’t want us diminishing Hanukkah excitement for kiddos too young by not giving the kids small gifts each night. And I was raised with the belief that a pile of gifts under the tree and a full stocking is the best part of the season – but enough is enough. Eight nights of gifts followed by a visit from Santa (not to mention, two sets of Grandparents) has us drowning in toys/clothes/socks. How can we stop the madness without taking the presents out of one celebration or the other?

- We Need More Closets!

Dear Closets,

If you want less merchandise in the house, you and your husband are going to need to make some edits to your respective nostalgic expectations. You’ll have to give up the idea that Christmas is only Christmas when Santa’s generosity overflows to the front door. And your husband will have to give up the idea that Hanukkah is an eight-day marathon of continuous excitement. But you can build traditions and associations that work better for your new family.

You both know you want to dial down. Now you just have to hash out the details of your hybrid holiday plan. A good place to start is by sitting down with your husband and working out what’s important to each of you about your holiday memories. What do you think you’d miss most? What’s most special, and what might be redundant? Are there broader family plans and traditions you need to take into account?

You could do one big night of Hanukkah and a smaller Christmas. You could focus on the family gatherings and have smaller things on your own. You could give eight nights of sweets then toys on Christmas, or vice versa. Some people give basic necessities - snow boots and pillowcases - to make the whole affair more practical. There are lots of solutions. You get to create your own, personal, meaningful, crazy, funny, touching, mixed-up, unforgettable tradition. However you slice and dice, it makes sense to consider some kind of gift giving on both holidays so as not to skew the balance in your kids’ eyes.

If you and your husband are having any trouble reconciling what to keep and what to toss, keep in mind that this will be an evolving process. You can see how the first year goes and tweak accordingly. If you find yourself missing the morning bounty, or your husband goes to bed with a sad feeling because you’ve ixnayed the Hanukah gelt, you can always reintroduce it next year.

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This article was written by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris for, the magazine and community for a new generation of parents.


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About Ceridwen Morris


Ceridwen Morris

Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent.

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2 thoughts on “Multi-Faith Christmas Traditions | Multi-Faith Hanukkah Traditions | Multi-Faith Holidays

  1. Kattypants says:

    I would like to say that giving hand-made, meaningful gifts is a nice break from the “stuff.” Writing a poem, even a short haiku for each child and having it written in calligraphy and framed for their bedroom is something that they can treasure their whole life. You don’t have to be super crafty to do something handmade (though the crafty people should really go for it during the holidays). Writing a letter of affirmation is great for older kids, and making a little picture book is great for the younger crowd. These things celebrate family as a whole by building up each member individually, which is sometimes nicer than giving practical gifts that kids don’t really care about.

  2. GGsmama says:

    We have the same situation in our house- and we have tried to cut down on the excess by asking the grandparents for experiences rather than tangible gifts for Hannukah, which turned out wonderfully- my daughter’s gift was music classes for this coming winter/spring. It cuts down on the “Stuff” and makes the present last that much longer.
    As our daughter gets older, I would love her big Xmas gift to be tickets to a show, whether it be the Nutcracker or something else she is into… Again, less stuff, more family time and fun experiences…

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