Commentary

The Miracle of The (Multicultural) Holidays

Chanukah - ChristmasThis year I set up our Christmas tree and for the first time, I also put out my menorahs or as I’ve learned they are really called, Hanukkiahs.  I’m not Jewish and neither is my husband, but my kids are as they were born to a Jewish woman who was our traditional surrogate named Jessica, or fondly referred to as “Chava.”

We have blended our families and together we make up a large and diverse group of individuals – both in tradition and in heritage. But, in the end we are simply family.  And, during the holiday season no matter what traditions you follow, family, love and sweet fellowship are at the center of it all.

Since the beginning of our surrogacy journey, the connection between our future kids and Jessica, her family and her cultural and religious lineage were of the utmost importance to me.  I gratefully made it my job as their mom to teach my kids the traditions and beliefs that are practiced on all sides of their family.  Not just Christmas but also Hanukah, which is why I bought Hanukah candles while we were waiting for our photos with Santa.

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Reflections on Christmas…

Nancy Rodgers ChristmasYou Better Watch Out…

My son’s Christmas list seems to get bigger with each passing year.  I find myself longing for the days when opening a pack of play-do made him happy and he would want nothing more than to dive into the squishy stuff at hand, never paying any mind to the pile of presents that still awaited him under the tree.  These days, I find myself confronted with a nine year-olds’ inquisitive mind about all subjects albeit one that he and I know he would prefer to keep in the naïve land of childhood innocence.

The Moral Dilemma

So how long do I pretend?  My nineteen year-old daughter recently let me know that she was on to me by age eight because she questioned why mommy and Santa had the same handwriting.  I was never one for wrapping or writing in disguise.  It was always done in a mad rush a few nights before while my husband would put her to bed.  I never thought to distinguish my handwriting on those ridiculous “to and from” tags bought in 100 packs at Walmart.  I must say I was horrified.  “Why didn’t you tell me?” I implored.  “Come on Mom, admit to the “No Santa” idea?  That would certainly cut down on presents.”  [Read More…]

By |December 22nd, 2014|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Midlife Foibles!|Tags: , , |0 Comments

A Different Christmas (Celebrating with Stepfamilies) by Trisha Ladogna

DifferentChristmas1 The carols are playing, the decorations are up and strings of lights are strung over houses with care. It all seems rather normal, but for repartnered families having a first (or tenth!) Christmas together, it can feel pretty surreal. We share Christmas with my stepson’s mother.

One year he spends Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning with us and heads to his mother’s for the majority of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Vice versa the following year.

After 12 years and two other children, I still can’t decide which is more difficult. Having the joy of Christmas Eve with all of the spine-tingling Santa expectation and early morning waking to presents only to be followed by the letdown of him leaving for the rest of the day.

His absence a niggling presence in all that we do the rest of the day. Or the alternative of waking up to Christmas morning without him and having the long (feels-like-forever) wait until he gets home to let our family’s ‘real’ celebrations begin. [Read More…]

Kindly Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

Nicholas as a babyWith shopping, cooking, decorating, organizing, scheduling, mailing, and the balancing of familial personalities, holidays are not always as joyful as they are stressful. While the rest of us will be running around like chickens…or turkeys…with our heads cut off, my son will be awaiting the arrival of the red-suited man with the jolly laugh. I remember doing the same as a hopeful young boy.

I can remember the glory of Christmas Eve when I was a kid. The house was filled with green and red anticipation. Unmistakable seasonal aromas hung in the air in and around our cozy kitchen. My mom made pans upon pans of butterballs,date cookies and egg biscuits each in their own sugary powder or glaze. I’m not saying that family drama wasn’t going on around us, only that I cannot remember it from my blissfully ignorant rearview mirror. [Read More…]

How “Merry Christmas” Upset Me (And How I Got Over It)

Wendy Sue's chanukah II

 

How can the most wonderful holiday of the year upset me, you wonder?  Good question.

I grew up in a reform Jewish home, meaning it was more cultural than religious.  For me, the best part of growing up Jewish was the Jewish food, still is, actually!

In Edison, New Jersey, where I spent my childhood, all of my friends but one other Jewish girl, had Santa sliding down their chimneys to bring them gifts galore.  I looked outside our home to see if we had a chimney too, and wondered, “Why didn’t Santa come down ours?” [Read More…]

Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus

Lori's Christmas I

On the outside of the boxes it says “SANTAS” in bright red letters. The corners of the boxes are reinforced with duct tape, since the contents get a little heavier each year. A musty smell clings to these two hat-sized boxes. Now, however, it’s time for the boxes’ annual unveiling.

Opening the boxes, I touch crumbled tissue paper and old, yellowed newspaper. I unwrap the first one and smile. It is one of the 30 Santas—one for every year my husband and I have been together—that are nestled together for safekeeping. It’s Christmas time and here comes Santa Claus!

When I was newly engaged, my husband and I attended a family friend’s home for an annual Christmas get together. Going to “Mrs. J’s” house was always fun, delicious, and filled with laughter and memories of our childhood. That particular Christmas, I noticed her collection of Santas. [Read More…]

Chanukah and The Passing Down Of Traditions

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the many reasons I wanted to have children was to pass down traditions and have a lineage (I am the last remaining member of the Shapiro family).

On holidays such as Chanukah, I’m reminded of what these days mean to me – a remembrance of my childhood, a passing on of the torch, a recognition of the wonderment of it all, a celebration of both religious and familial practices.

This photo of my son, taken several years ago, is one of the first remembrances he has of Chanukah. The sheer joy and delight on his face still takes my breath away.

How much do we all remember, relive, and annually embrace our own holidays with that same wide-eyed wonder?

Having children brings long-forgotten images and memories back. During times like these, those memories are sometimes too precious and too yummy to forgo. I often tell my children that they will have this experience or that experience to share with their own children and grandchildren. I hope my son remembers this very moment when he celebrates with his “tooties” (translated: children) and his children’s “tooties.” He will, at least, have this photo to refer to.

In keeping with this joyous holiday season, I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Holiday… and a really special New Year.

My best,

Cyma Shapiro

By |December 16th, 2014|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Mothers Over 50, Rituals & Spirituality||1 Comment

Celebrating Multicultural Holidays In Our Home

Chanukah - ChristmasFor some reason, being the eldest daughter in a Jewish family, I always thought I should marry a Jewish man. Well, I fell in love with the most wonderful man in the world who happens to be the son of a retired-Episcopal minister.

I grew up celebrating Easter and Passover, Christmas and Hanukkah, even though I’m Jewish. I knew my folks would be fine with me marrying Tom; they knew we loved each other very much and they knew we both had good heads on our shoulders.  Our families welcomed our togetherness.  To culminate our union, we had a beautifully blended dual ceremony with an Episcopal minister and a Jewish friend (ordained minister) performing our service. [Read More…]

Happy Chriskwanzaramadanikah!

Chanukah - Christmas

 

Happy Chriskwanzaramadanikah!  The holidays are upon us and/or in some cases have passed us by with more threatening in the wings.  Without exaggeration or millions of painful anecdotes, we can start another spending like there’s no tomorrow, fight over parking spaces and eat until we’re gorged baccanale.  Boy, am I ever excited! [Read More…]

By |December 12th, 2014|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Millennials and the Holiday Spirit

Chanukah - ChristmasAlthough it may be the holiday season, as far as presents go that doesn’t mean a whole lot to Millennials. Like so many other issues, they have their own ideas about gift giving. Apparently what they want is cash, mostly to pay down college costs and other debt.

So much for the negative stereotype that those born between 1980 and 2000 are lazy and have a sense of entitlement. Millennials are laboring under a collective $1 trillion in debt from student loans and still struggling to find jobs. Yet a survey of 6,500 members of the so-called ‘Me Generation’ indicates that last year well over half of them made donations to charitable causes and volunteered their time. [Read More…]

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