Navigating The December Dilemma

As we move from Thanksgiving into the winter holiday season, many families face the December Dilemma: which holiday(s) to emphasize.  While more common for interfaith families, many families face a similar struggle as Christmas pervades the holiday scene, leaving Chanukah, Kwanza, Yule, and others as minor afterthoughts. Many parents struggle with school /holiday observances, as well as questions young children may ask about other celebrations that their family does not observe.

Here are a few ways to help navigate conversations this year.

• Think about your holiday memories. What holiday practices and activities were important to you? What meaning do these observances have to you?

• Share memories with your partner and ask about his or her family holidays.

• Talk about your concerns. For example, give voice to worries about confusing the children, upsetting extended family, failing to enjoy your holiday, or losing a sense of your identity.

• Be open to compromise and looking at these issues in new ways. Try to work out a trial plan and evaluate how well it works after the holidays have ended

• Explain your plans in advance to extended family and selected friends so that they will not feel left out and can know what to expect. Remember you are not rejecting the person, just choosing new holiday traditions.

If you or your spouse is new to Chanukah traditions, has an excellent Guide to Chanukah for Interfaith Families:

Locally, JFCS has a new support group for parents with young adults in interfaith relationships that will meet on January 7th from 7-8 PM at The Temple, led by Judy Freundlich Tiell.  Details:

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