Monday, December 6, 2010

2nd Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party

Traditions are a huge part of my family, many that stem from religious holidays.

Every year since I can remember my family has decorated a real Christmas tree. Always getting the largest one that the room will allow. With a vaulted ceiling we had a few 15 footers! At least, as my six year old self can recall. But I can verify those numbers for you because of another great tradition my Dad started. Each year he had the tree salesman cut off and save the stump. This was not only for the more obvious purpose of allowing for better water intake. On these stumps he would write the date, height and width of the tree, and who was in attendance. Beginning with just my parents and, as the years go on, the additions of my sister, myself, and my brother were made. A unique scrapbook of sorts.

My husband and I now have three stumps of our own and I can't wait to begin adding the names of our children when applicable. For now, we choose to invite our friends over to help us decorate. Being in Cleveland, his hometown, most of our friends happen to be Jewish.

While it has been a struggle so far, and I know it will unfortunately be a struggle forever, it is very important for me to celebrate all of the holidays. So my strategy is to embrace Christmas and Hanukkah in our household. It is my hope that doing so will open the doors for acceptance from his Jewish family and friends. If they see that I openly celebrate their holidays with as much excitement as my own, they may just be okay with the fact that I require a Christmas tree as part of my holiday celebrations. However, I know I'll need to hold my ground to avoid a "give them an inch they take a mile" situation. In the past I've noticed that asserting my interest in the Jewish faith has implied to them a lack of interest in my own. Which is absolutely not the case.

And so explains our 2nd Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party. We first decided to invite friends after a few of our Jewish friends with "Tree Envy" pretty much invited themselves. I purchased a bunch of inexpensive ornaments from Target as well as a few personal/decorative ones. Each year I plan on adding a few more so we'll eventually have a collection as unique as my parent's. And every year a few guests inevitably bring their own as presents. And while they are often Jewish themed or holiday neutral (stuffed dradel, silver ornament with blue Stars of David, snowmen, snowflakes, and my personal fave, a Chinese fortune cookie for all those Jews who go out for Chinese on Christmas), it is my firm belief that however involved and accepting they'll be, I'll take it. If they can't bring themselves to say Merry Christmas, but participate enthusiastically in the decorating, I get their intentions.

We began the night with a perfectly fitting lighting of the Menorah, since it was the fourth night of Hanukkah, and ended with some raucous Rock Band. In between we filled the night with tree decorating, it almost fell twice!, and tons of eating. All in all a great night and a step in the right direction.

Breck even made an appearance as Santa Clause!

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