As I grew up in a home that was both Jewish and Christian, observance of the winter holidays proved interesting to say the least. It wasn’t unusual in our house to have a Christmas tree with a Star of David at the top, or a Chanukah menorah alongside a manger scene. We made Chai cookies (that’s Chai, the Hebrew word-symbol meaning life pronounced like “Hi” – not the spiced tea) alongside gingerbread men. I cherish that world, my world, the one I grew up in, because of the beautiful memories, symbolism, and great offbeat humor shared among family.
Today, I still put up a tree and a Magen David; yard lights, although they are Biblical Blue (techelet) and white. We light the menorah. I sing my favorite carol, Little Drummer Boy, while playing a game or two of Dreidel because it teaches my kid about giving charitably – and hey, I also like eating chocolate gelt, just like I like eating candy canes.
I’ve always valued the expression “Happy Holidays” because with my background it’s inclusive of both Christmas and Chanukah. It strikes me as a very sensitive way to wish someone well during the winter. “Merry Christmas” is warm and meaningful, too. Yet when it comes to the once-a-year hyperdrive cavalry expression, “Jesus is the reason for the season. Take Christ out of Christmas and you don’t have a holiday!” I’d say every day; every breath we take is reason to esteem faith in the Son of God. Each day we live is cause to celebrate in whom and what we believe, but hopefully with increasing gentleness, humility, and grace.
As you do what you do this season, I simply and joyfully wish you, with warmth and respect, a Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas – or as we say in my crazy household, “Happy Christma-kah.”
Love in Yeshua (the Jewish way to say Jesus),