He’en’s Holiday Program is approaching. I’m keeping a low profile about the Holiday Program. I expect it’s the usual mishmash of one true carol, one “Dreidel Dreidel,” then what my sister calls, “reindeer songs, a totally gray area.”
To my lapsed-Lutheran ears, this sounds harmless. But DH could have another opinion, and I don’t need a tussle.
We don’t have options anyway. There here is no Jewish preschool within an hour’s drive, so our religious training rests on my [patently underqualified] shoulders. With the help of Jewfaq.org, I’ve established a weekly Shabbat. My child can recite table grace in Hebrew as well.
All-in, I think I do pretty well.
For eleven months of the year, I do pretty well.
For the twelfth month, oy vey.
The holiday season is such a virulent challenge that if you Google the catchphrase “December Dilemma” (hereinafter “DD”) you can read more than you ever wanted to know. Here’s one to get you started. Here’s another, this one by a rabbi.
When DH and I decided to raise the kids exclusively Jewish, my parents were insanely sporting about the DD. Without a fuss, they converted their Christmas presents to Hanukkah gifts. They even accepted the absence of the grandkids on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Understand, this is no small thing they have done. Without complaint, they have accepted my decision to kick to the curb generations of carefully preserved Norwegian holiday traditions, in the interest of maintaining harmony with the faith of their in-laws.
My parents are freakin’ rock stars.
But no matter what you do with your kids in December, it’s just plain tough to say to a 4-year-old:
“Those giant aisles of glitter in Target are not for you. You get this blue-and-silver endcap with the menorahs printed on the napkins. But it’s a proud tradition! Don’t feel marginalized!”
He’en, however, seems to be quite competently working through the theological difficulties on her own.
This morning, she was singing a little wheedly song into her egg. On closer listening, I realized it was “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.” Except that He’en is working on the letter L, so “Dreidel” rhymes with “Playdoh.”
She is so happy and content, meandering through her simple song.
She launches into “Djinguh Beyos.”
Then she abruptly stops.
“Eh? What? Yes?”
“You kin cewwebwate [celebrate] Kwistmas and still be Dewish, right?”
“Little one, you certainly can.”
“Becoss I am Dewish no matter what, right?”
“Yes, you are. No matter what.”
I think she has very nicely summed it up.