Same procedure as every year? This year it was the NYT’s turn to address the issue of celebrating the holidays among interfaith families. There are two aspects of that article that I’d like to address. (For notes on the article under a different aspect, please take a look at Phoebe’s blog; she’s got a few interesting ideas on Jewish identity there.)
What I found worrisome about the article were the examples of couples that try to somewhat compete in making their children favour either holiday over the other. To sum my point up: don’t do that to your children. Even if you mean it in a more or less joking manner, don’t put your children in the spot to side against either parent. There’s a reason why in family therapy such dynamics are considered symptomatic of dysfunctional family structures. Children perceive things differently than adults and may not understand your motivations or the ‘humour’ therein enough to feel comfortable. If you’re in an interfaith relationship with children, I suggest that either you celebrate both holidays or none; if you want to give gifts, choose a different, ‘independent’ date (e.g. New Year’s Day) to do so.
And now for something completely different:
Dear editors of newspapers,
Do you really think that (non-violent) disagreements within families are newsworthy? Is there so much journalistic value in establishing that people from different backgrounds may have different views on matters of sentimental value? Has it ever appeared to you that even within homogeneously Jewish families there may be disunity on religious practice and customs?
Ach, there’s conflict potential in any relationship. So, since I wouldn’t want you to run out of topics for future articles concerning mixed couples, I suggest you cover the following matches and their respective shalom bais issues: ornithologist vs Voodoo priest, Esmeralda vs Quasimodo, US Americans vs Canadians, Straight Edge vs BBQ champion, smoker vs non-smoker, Oxford vs Cambridge grad, morning person vs morning grouch, etc. Uninteresting you say? Banal? Guess what…