Decking the Halls: To Tree or Not to Tree?

Around this time of year, my son inevitably asks whether we can get a Christmas tree. It's a familiar dilemma for many interfaith families, and one we continue to struggle with. Does combining traditions dilute one's cultural identity or enrich it? How do you avoid causing a severe case of holiday envy?

Here are some of the ways interfaith families cope:

  1. Celebrate Both Holidays at Home: For some families, equal immersion is the way to go. They light candles for Hanukkah and open gifts every night. They also put up a Christmas tree, sit down for traditional Christmas meals, and exchange gifts with family and friends.
  2. Celebrate One and Visit the Other: Many families choose to celebrate one holiday at home and spend the other at a relative or friend's home.
  3. Celebrate Christmukkah: Anyone who has seen a Hanukkah bush or a Star-of-David tree topper is familiar with the Christmukkah phenomenon. Some like the idea of integration, while others are concerned about the long-term effects of assimilation.
  4. Celebrate the Winter Solstice: Some people avoid the issue altogether by focusing on a secular celebration. They bring greenery indoors, make birdfeeders, light a yule log, and decorate with natural elements such as pinecones or snowflakes.

How do you honor multiple traditions in your home?

Image: Midwest Living