Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Although it is a national holiday in the US, there are many people who do not celebrate this holiday. As a parent, how do you handle the questions and situations that come up when your child asks “why do my friends celebrate Christmas and we do not?” Here are some parenting tips for families who don’t celebrate Christmas.
As a Jewish parent I find it particularly annoying that many people feel that Chanukah is a “Jewish Christmas”. Chanukah has nothing to do with Christmas. Chanukah is the celebration of keeping the light of our faith alive and passing it down to younger generations. Jewish parents should develop a love of faith within their children and you can explain to them that Christmas is a Christian holiday. Take this time to help them understand that you understand how the media hype around Christmas time may have made things confusing for them, but there are many people who do not celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is a good time to discuss diversity with your children. It is a fabulous time to reaffirm your family’s beliefs and values with them. Let your children know how you feel about this religious holiday being a national holiday and take a good look at all of the media hype around it. You can discuss if it is really a religious holiday anymore, or has it become a retail holiday like Mother’s Day.
You can also take this time for tzedakah (charity), and give to those in need. If a financial gift is not possible, you can always help at an interfaith food bank or soup kitchen. Using this time off from school and work for the purpose of helping and giving to the poor is one way that you can show your children how to make this time special while holding to your religious beliefs. If you happen to be in Brooklyn NY, see if Masbia is open and donate time serving meals.
How do you prepare your children to handle questions from Christian friends about why your family does not celebrate Christmas. This can be tricky. Some of these children can be down right rude. I cannot tell you how many times Christian children try to proselytize non-Christians with their faith. Dealing with this can be difficult. Explain to your children that this is how these children were raised and they do not realize that they are being rude. Teaching them tact and how to respond to these questions politely is a skill that you must give them. You can show them through your words and actions how to address this situation. We run into the parents of these children socially, so setting a good example is important.
Using the above tips for families who do not celebrate Christmas should help your children understand the diversity of mankind and perhaps teach them a little tolerance for those who are different.