My dearest children,
May you always look forward to the holiday season with the giddy anticipation of a child; allow your mood to be heightened by the aroma of latkes and pine trees, and the jangles of the 24/7 Christmas songs (except for “The Christmas Shoes,” which is the worst).
May you believe in something larger than yourself. You may not be able to define it, or give it a name, but it will give you a sense of security, something to pin your hopes on, and a way to feel less alone.
Throughout your life, may you feel comfortable in both religious arenas, and feel embraced by both communities, despite not having undergone the milestones.
Sure, you may boast to your friends now of your “eight-days-of-presents, plus-Christmas” mega holiday haul. Just keep in mind that someday, you will have to give just as many presents, and macaroni necklaces are not going to cut it.
When complaining about the length of the rabbi’s sermon or the priest’s homily, remember that each is shorter than those four episodes of Caillou we sat through this morning.
May you feel comfortable enough to question what you don’t understand, and never feel the need to accept things at face value that make no sense to you. Religion can be confusing and contradictory, providing more questions than answers. Like a David Lynch film, only even less coherent.
(Also, stay away from David Lynch films until you’re much, much older. They will make your dreams nutty.)
May you believe in Santa longer than you should, scoff at the notion of an Easter bunny, and appreciate the sad also-ran that is Hanukkah Harry.
Dear children, focus on how much our two religions have in common. Like, how both holidays celebrate the majesty of lights, whether they’re melting down the side of a menorah, or twined around an inflatable reindeer. (See, our religions are practically the same!)
May you learn that it is less important to be a good Jew or Catholic than it is to be a good person. Religion gives you guideposts for morality, but you get to choose how to internalize this for yourself.
Please know that, under no circumstances, are you going to Hell, despite what that odd lady on the subway told you.
If you ever figure out the correct way to spell “Chanukah,” please let me know. Every way looks wrong.
Despite your suspicions, Uncle Jack is not Santa Claus. It seems like he’s the only one not in the room when Santa appears, but really, he’s out getting more coffee and will be back soon. It’s too bad; he’ll probably just miss Santa.
Please understand that chocolate coins are not actual currency. Despite your dreidel prowess, you will not be able to use your winnings to pay for college.
Down the line, may you find in your life partner someone with the same values, even if your religious backgrounds diverge. And if you decide to have an interfaith wedding officiant, definitely Google them thoroughly before handing over the deposit.
We hope you’ll have in-laws that are as understanding and nurturing as ours are. While they’re disappointed that they can’t pass down their zeal for their faiths completely, your interfaithfulness in no way diminishes their love for you, or us.
Someday, dear children, you’ll realize that our decision to raise you with both faiths is not the easiest path, but for us, it’s the only path. As you get older, you’ll get to choose which traditions (Christmas), customs (keeping Christmas), and beliefs (definitely Christmas) you want as part of your life. But if you gravitate toward one particular religion, we understand that you are not choosing between parents, but finding your own spiritual path. And we promise to never let on how difficult your decision may be for one of us.
Raising you interfaith is not giving you the “best of both worlds;” rather, it is giving you “both worlds,” for better or worse, more similar than different. We pray that you will use your dual background to build bridges between these worlds, instead of walls.
Also, you are underage, my dears, so please put down the eggnog.