(Closed) Interfaith holiday sadness

posted 8 years ago in Interfaith
Post # 3
Member
220 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Wow, that is tough, indeed!  I know it may seem confusing of how it could work to raise interfaith children, but it can!  So, my story – My mom is Catholic and my dad is Agnostic/Atheist.  When they were together, she wasn’t very active in the church so she agreed with my dad to raise me with no particular religion so I could choose for myself.  When they got divorced, she became very active in the Catholic church and my dad started attending the Unitarian church, which is nondenominational, so I was exposed to ALL types of religions.  Lo and behold when it came time to choose as a teenager, I was baptised in the Catholic Church.  Even though it was tough sometimes to not feel like I ‘belonged’ in one faith or another, I’m very happy that my parents entrusted me to choose for myself. 

I’m a bit of a ‘lapsed’ Catholic now and my Fiance was raised the ‘traditional’ way, but really doesn’t believe a lick of it these days.  So, I kind of have the same question too.  What do we do with the kids?  Part of me wants them to have the same experience as me to find their own path, but definitely deep down I would like them to get that same Christian ‘feeling’ too…. Since for me Fiance isn’t into any of it, for me it falls on my shoulders to figure out.  He says he’ll support me in whatever I want ot do, so when we cross that bridge…. 

BUT for you, maybe it would help to talk to someone at a nondenominational church.  The Unitarian Church my dad took me to celebrated and acknowledged both Jewish and Christian holidays, so it was really great to go to the children’s Christmas concert service and then celebrate Passover through the years. 

And really, if your Fiance is supportive of you having a tree and celebrating Christmas, you shouldn’t have a feeling of awkwardness and sadness – have you told him you’ve felt this way?

Post # 4
Member
1235 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I completely understand where you are coming from. The only difference for me is that luckily Fiance (Also a Reform Jew) LOVES Christmas. HE was so excited when we got our first Christmas tree and this being the first Christmas he is actually spending with my family and really his first ever Christmas he is super excited. He was the same way about his first Easter and I know he gets excited when I get equally overjoyed about his holidays. Hanukkah was fun and we both enjoyed every part of it. Now, with that aside, it has taken some getting used to.

I have the same fears/worries about children. We have agreed to raise our children in both religions. Meaning that we will celebrate all religious holidays as a family and participate in all traditions. Our sons will have a bris and our daughters a naming ceremony as well as a dedication (I’m Baptist so we don’t chrisen although my grandfather is an episcopalian priest and my grandmother a deacon so I was Chrisened and am kinda bummed I can’t do that for my kids). For me it is tough because for Christians what you believe and where you place your faith has an ompact in what happens after death. For Jews that is not the case. So while I want to respect his beliefs and traditions I am obviously biased in that I want my children to be saved. What we have decided though is that we will teach our children Gods love and hoe Jesus grew up and the holidays he celebrated. We will answer the tough “Why doesn’t mommy/daddy believe the same thing” and ultimately allow them to make up their own mind. I would hate to force my children into something they don’t honestly and truely believe in. And in the end all Christians have the ability to make that choice. You aren’t born a Christian, you chose to become one by asking Jesus. So, I will raise my children in an open and loving home and will teach them to be tolerant and respectful of other peoples differing beliefs and values. I think if you focus on that it will be a little easier. That is what I have to do.

Sorry so long. It is a complicated and difficult subject. Know you aren’t the only one. There is atleast one other person who feels your frustrations and concerns. The best thing I can recommend is talking to him. I know that sounds so over-used and obvious but do it! And make sure that you are as excited about his holidays as you want him to be about yours. He will take your cues and begin to warm up over time.

Good luck! I will be right there with you!

Post # 5
Member
1235 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

And I just noticed you mentioned that all interfaith stuff you find tells the Christian to raise their kids Jewish… I am happy I am not the only one that only sees that! It drives me nuts!

Post # 6
Member
6 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: February 2011

I am the child of an interfaith marriage, and in my experience, I think we turned out okay.

My mom is Jewish and my dad is Christian.  As the years have gone by, my dad has become less religious, but they raised us with both traditions, and left it up to us to decide what we wanted to believe.

I consider myself Jewish, and my fiance is Catholic.  We’ve decided to do the same thing my parents did, but be more involved.  While my parents didn’t really go to services, I plan to take my kids to services at a synagogue, while my fiance plans to take them to church.  It may not happen every week, but we plan to make our best effort.  I want them to learn all they can before making a decision.

I also plan on them being baptized and having first communion and everything.  Since I am Jewish (and my mom is), a Jewish congregation will always recognize them as Jewish if they would like, but I know for Catholics to take communion they have to do certain things, and I don’t want to deprive them of anything they may want in their future.

That’s my perspective on the whole thing – I want to give my children the gift of choosing their religion, since all that will matter to me in the end is that they’re happy.

Hope I helped!

Post # 7
Member
7695 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

I understand where you are coming from. My husbands family is Jewish and I was raised Methodist. At this point in our lives neither of us are religious. However, I am a little different than you in that I do not identify myself as a Christian – in fact, I identify more with the Jewish faith. However, the Christmas thing as been a bit weird. Darling Husband does not feel comfortable having a tree at this point and not for our future kids either. Good thing right now we still go to my moms who has a tree to celebrate. In the future I just cant imagine my kids not having a tree and feeling the warmth and happiness during the Christmas season. I would not take them to church but a lot of my memories and happy feelings come from just spending time together around Christmas and doing Christmas-y things (like decorating the tree). This year we are putting up lights and I have a few little decorations around the house. We have talked about the future and what we will do in terms of celebrating with kids and right now we just don’t know. I dont want to teach my children about Christianity but I do want to celebrate Christmas in a totally secular way. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for both of you because even though Im not religious we are still struggling with this issue!

Post # 8
Member
125 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@scaredybee: Hey gal, I could have written the first few sentences of your post, so I felt compelled to reply.  I’m a devout Lutheran.  Christmas is my favorite time of year, and as much as I love the secular pieces – the trees, the lights, the Bing Crosby – Christmas is a deeply religious time for me, and I find great joy in that.  I was raised in a (committedly Christian and strongly liberal!) home where Christmas is joyfully celebrated in both secular and Christian ways. 

MY wonderful fiance is also a Reform Jew.  πŸ™‚  He isn’t very religious in a theological sense (or in a going-to-temple-regularly sense), but he identifies as Jewish, and it is a deep and meaningful part of his heritage, and a tradition he honors. 

An important thing to remember: two people do not have to experience the same tradition in the exact same way for both to find it meaningful.  That’s something I’ve learned this year.

This year is our first one living together, so we’ve gotten to share both traditions.  We have a Christmas tree, and, yes, I was the driving force behind getting one, but he really likes having it.  And we lit a menorah and said the blessings every night of Hanukkah, and I really enjoyed that (despite my lousy Hebrew).  It wasn’t specifically a symbol of freedom to me, but I enjoyed the intentionality and the peacefulness it brought to our dinner table as we watched the candles burn down.  We ate latkes and spun the dreidel.  I have a little creche on my desk, and we have an Advent wreath with candles I light on Sundays.  And we both enjoy it all, even though they don’t mean the same to each of us. 

He comes to church with me at Christmas and Easter, and I go to temple with him for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  And it’s interesting and it works for us.

We both would like to raise any children in both religions and traditions.  Admittedly, we don’t know how to do that, but I feel hopeful that it is possible.  My biggest concern is not to confuse nor overwhelm a child.  A Jewish education is pretty time-intensive, and sending a kid to both Hebrew school and Sunday school just seems cruel, to be perfectly honest.  πŸ™‚

The thing that you pointed out that is nervewracking about planning a family is that you don’t know how you’re going to feel when you do have them.  You might both become really nostalgic about your own childhood and want all those traditions for your children.  But you just don’t know. 

My fiance likes celebrating Christmas, not because he honors it as the birth of the Messiah, but because it makes me so happy.  And he likes seeing me that happy.  Your fiance knows who you are, so you’re not springing a love for Christmas on him unexpectedly.  And he loves you.  He will continue to celebrate Christmas with you because he knows how important it is to you. 

The question is: can you accept and be peaceful in the knowledge that he will never feel exactly as you do about Christmas and Christianity?  If you can, be sure, be sure, be sure to talk about the things that are important to you. 

(And know that even a Christian man might not feel exactly as you do about things.)

At any rate, if you want children, you are going to HAVE to sit down and discuss how you’re raising your children and at least be on the same page about it before you get married.  That conversation ain’t gonna get any easier. 

P.S.  And yes, pretty much all the interfaith stuff out there to read is written from a Jewish perspective and strongly encourages the raising of Jewish children, and I find that frustrating, but maybe we as Christians should take that as our cue to get into it and start writing down ways to encourage ways that interfaith families can experience Christianity!

P.P.S.  Sorry I wrote you a novel.  πŸ™‚   

Post # 9
Member
893 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Another interfaith couple here – I’m Jewish and Fiance is Christian. We both are deeply rooted in tradition and celebrating our respective holidays.

We both really enjoy the spirit of the holiday season, but aren’t too caught up in the religious aspect of it. The traditional ways of celebrating and spending time with family are what we enjoy.

We have a beautiful tree that gives my Fiance a lot of joy and we light the Hanukkah candles every year.

It works nicely for us. We plan to raise the children with traditions that we both grew up with, and are happy for them to choose the right path for themselves when they are old enough. As children, we are both okay with the briss and the baptism since those are both meaningful spiritual events for our family.

As a Jew, whatever children I do have will be Jewish to me to matter what happens, so it doesn’t matter if they grow up to identify as a Christian.

As to your concerns, it sounds like you could probably stand to discuss them with your SO if you are very upset, but these are the types of things that we struggle with as interfaith couples. As long as you can discuss is lovingly and calmly, maybe you can come to an agreement you are more comforted by.

Post # 10
Member
174 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

@scaredybee:

I think what I relate to the most is the feeling of sadness I get from your post. I’m agnostic, and Fiance is Jewish. He tolerates my wanting to celebrate Christmas, which I do – although not religious, to me it has a spiritual and cultural meaning and I enjoy it. I end up feeling alone in my celebration; it’s just not something Fiance is going to do with me, and I realized as I put up my little tree and some decorations.  For me, I’m hoping that the sadness/awkwardness lessens with time, but I think it’s about letting go of that picture of the family holiday with the two of us doing Christmas things together. We’re not having children, so I don’t have that to work out as well. I do think you’ve already gotten some amazing feedback on that…

Post # 12
Member
125 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@scaredybee:  I don’t think anyone has ever said I sounded like them on their GOOD days.  Next time you’re in Minneapolis, I’m gonna have to buy you a beer.  πŸ™‚

 

Post # 13
Member
369 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

Even though I came here to give some thoughtful words, I need to start by giving a little criticism to some of the posters. As a teacher who works with kids on their language and tolerance, I am a bit uneasy the overuse of “a Jew” terminology, which was also used by a Jewish poster. In the past, “A Jew” or “a reformed Jew” has had a derogatory connotation, although I am sure you did not mean it that way.

My fiance and I make an interfaith couple, and he is far more interested in either one of our religions and traditions (including the songs and the foods.) Your husband might be more like me, just less interested in the holidays. My interest does not go much further than sniffing out real Christmas trees, sucking on candy canes, and downing soy eggnog. Perhaps you should not take this as an affront to your religion, faith, or enjoyment of the festivities. Some of us just are not into it. It’s not our nature.

My hope is that if and when we raise children, we join up with a Unitarian congregation, for they are inclusive of and integrate several religious perspectives, including Islam and Agnosticism/ Atheism. From my research, I have found that many congregations are into spirituality, world religions, and social justice. This might be a way for you and your FH to raise your children in both traditions or to let them find their own paths.

Post # 14
Member
699 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

@stacycats: That’s exactly what my folks did–raise me Unitarian.  It seems to be a very popular religion for interfaith couples.

Post # 15
Member
369 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

@Frog E.: Funny, I am Jewish and my fiance is Catholic. Even if I married somebody else who was Jewish, I would lean towards the Unitarians. They, along with the Quakers, have always had me intrigued.

Post # 16
Member
875 posts
Busy bee

Just a thought… there are groups of Jewish Christians who celebrate both the religious Christian holidays and the High Holy days of Jewish culture as well.  Perhaps you should check out a group like this that respects the cultural heritage of both of your families.  Unitarians don’t really reflect the same thing in their group.  I know that the Jewish Christians call themselves… Messianic Jews or sometimes… Jews for Jesus. 

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