There are so many potential issues for a Jew-by-choice. Here are some that have been raised before:
*My family expects me to join them; how can I say no. I love them.
*I really love Christmas still. It isn’t religious for me, never was, just very festive.
*NOT having Christmas feels like such a momentous lifestyle change that I can’t wrap my head around it.
*I feel guilty having a Christmas tree.
*I feel guilty for wanting a Christmas tree.
*I’m afraid my rabbi/Jewish friends will find out I have a tree.
*I feel defensive and angry when people say this can’t be a secular holiday.
*I’m afraid my kids will love Christmas and hate me for depriving them of it.
And the list goes on.
Are you having yucky feelings about Christmas? STOP. You are not a bad person, you do love your family, you can have a tree, you can NOT have a tree, you aren’t depriving your children, no one gets to beat you up – not even you.
Christmas is just plain LOADED. How else would it sell everything from razors to dolls? Don’t feel bad that you have been influenced by our society’s huge investment in Christmas, financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically. You did not bring this on yourself. You live in America; it happens.
What to do? Stop letting negative feelings control you. Remember that you have a right to be a Jew who observes Christmas. Don’t be defensive or make up tales about why it’s OK. Embrace your truth. Be ready to say, “Hey, this holiday is the definition of family for me. I need it.” Or whatever is true for you. If people don’t like it you can smile and move on. Or you can ask them, “Do you have a solution? Let’s hear it.” Can they ‘fix’ your feelings? No, but I want you to. I don’t want you feeling bad.
Make a plan. Decide you are going to do which ever is most comfortable in your life this year. Then starting in January you have a year to plan to try something different. You could decide you’ll go to Hawaii next December, or to Tahoe or somewhere else. You could look around for friends with whom to spend the holiday. You could plan for a big Hanukkah year, go all out on decorations, parties and food. You could try going without the tree, or just the lights. You could make a decision that for ONE December in 2020 you’re going to test out doing what you think you “ought” to do. JUST FOR ONE YEAR. Then you are going to re-evaluate. I know a convert who decided, no Christmas for one December. The next year, yes, Christmas. Then after some reflection, my friend decided to stop having Christmas. At the same time I know people who have figured out how to make Christmas work in their home. Life is constantly changing. You get to experiment. Just be honest with your kids so they know what you’re doing.