The phrase "December dilemma" gets applied to the quandary some people feel of Christmas versus Hanukkah, especially for interfaith families. One might have expected that I would face some of that this year, but in fact we happily had no dilemma at all.
Partly this is because D. had a long-scheduled surgery last week, so we'd been planning for months that winter break was going to be super quiet as she recuperated. This meant that we were given an automatic "out" from having a tree, decorating, cooking a big, fancy meal at Christmas -- all of the usual expectations.
And when I say "out," I mostly just mean from our parents, whom we haven't talked with at all about this whole Jewish thing. Servetus's comment on my last post struck home with me, because, really, telling my mother is going to be the hardest thing about all of this. I had thought I might broach the topic in an entirely roundabout way at Thanksgiving, but then my family was in super-judgmental mode, and it just didn't seem an auspicious moment; I'll try again at spring break. I talked with my rabbi earlier this week about coming out to parents, and he said that November-December was a pretty bad time to do that anyway because of Christmas, which makes a lot of sense!
So the task for me was to not celebrate Christmas and yet not to let my mom know that I wasn't celebrating Christmas. D's surgery to the rescue -- built-in excuse for everything!
And of course we gave and received presents to and from our families (really just our mothers and our nieces), and talked with folks on the phone in the de rigeur Christmas phone calls, and that was all very nice, but otherwise we let Christmas pass us by. D. and I had decided in November that our "Christmas" present to each other would be our new menorah, which we received real joy from during Hanukkah.
The other plan we had, to feel truly and properly Jewish, was to eat Chinese food and watch a movie on Christmas! We couldn't go out and see a movie in the theatre because D. is recuperating, but we ordered Chinese food for delivery and watched a movie (Shattered Glass, which I had checked out from the school library with the thought that I might show it to my Journalism students). Delightful!
And today there's none of that post-Christmas let-down exhaustion that I used to have, plus there's leftover Chinese food in the fridge. While D. is napping (which has been mostly what she's been doing for the last week, thanks to her painkillers), I'm going to finally tackle some of the grading I need to do over the break, and I'll go to the gym, and read a bit, and then go to Shabbat services. Plus, the sun is shining for the first time in a week. Altogether, a lovely December day.