Hanukkah Mama Goes to Church

We’ve been reading a great book with T called Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama, about being in an interfaith family. I highly recommend it. It gave me the idea of eating latkes for Christmas breakfast (yum). The book has actually inspired me to try to come up with some tradition blending of our own, and we’ve been having a blast sprinkling Hanukkah gelt in the Christmas stockings and going on a hunt for the latke food truck on our way to see Santa.

We’ve also been going to church lately. We’ve been hopping around, trying out a few different churches, seeing if there’s a place we feel we fit in- weird, interfaith, transracial, looking-kind-of-like-a-boho-biker-gang family that we are. Strangely, finding a church we like is more important to Hanukkah Mama than it is to Daddy Christmas. I loved the rituals and traditions of temple growing up and I feel compelled to offer my son a similar experience. It doesn’t really matter to me whether it’s temple or church, it just matters that it feels like home and gives him a shared experience of the sacred. My belief in the importance of offering T a racially diverse community whenever possible leads me to lean toward church.

I had a very personal and present relationship with God as a child. I think that relationship made me good at being alone. I always had this other thing- a light behind me, a hand to steady me- that kept me from being lonely. Some people naturally gravitate toward a dialogue with God. Some people don’t need it, don’t want it, don’t believe it. I’ve always been able to see it from both sides and they both make sense to me. But me, I have the God impulse. I don’t expect to necessarily ever find a satisfactory answer, but I’ve resigned myself to the search anyway.

Scott, on the other hand, couldn’t stand church as a kid. Church was the place that he got stuffed into a suit and made to sit still to make his grandfather happy. It was a place of discomfort and obligation. But he’s being a champ about the whole church thing. We’ve been having a nice time getting up on Sundays and getting a little bit dressed up (which T loves to do- he’s a dapper little dude by nature), going to church and then going out to brunch with friends. It’s becoming a sweet ritual in our week.

It’s not enough for me to talk to God in my bedroom alone; I want to share the experience. And I’m just gonna say it- it’s all the same thing. Temple, church- whatever. It’s a place to feel a part of the human race in a way that transcends the constant brain chatter, a place to stand together and sing together and remember that we belong to each other.

Happy holidays from Hanukkah Mama, Daddy Christmas and T, just T, who gets to be whatever he wants to be!

6 Responses to 'Hanukkah Mama Goes to Church'

  1. We have a lot of overlap, but you know how I feel about god and the churches.

    But exploring life is always good. I would suggest taking T to a Quaker meeting at least three weeks in a row, so that he can get the rhythm. It’s a very different, very personal thing. No one tells you what to do. Scott needn’t dress up, the god there isn’t about wearing a tie.

    For almost a year we had “church” as a toddler music group on Ventura, then went to brunch afterwards with a bunch of friends. Gathering around music and having the tradition is, for me, the important part. The imaginary friend… not so much.

    T is probably a little young, but I wonder if he is trying to suss out the difference between god and Santa.

  2. Jen Kaplan says:

    This blog post really bothers me as a long time reader of your blog. What it fails to say is why you want a church instead of synagogue. Do you believe Jesus is the messiah? You live in LA, there are plenty of shuls that would love to have your family.

    • Jillian says:

      Hi Jan- Sorry this bothers you. We do actually go to shul now and then, but I do say in the post why we’re leaning toward church. The churches we’re looking at are racially diverse (actually, more like predominately African American) environments and that’s a very important consideration for us when seeking out a community for T. That’s the reason!

  3. Shannon says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!

  4. Shannon says:

    Btw, have you read The Color of Water? You might like it in light of having both a mixed religion and transracial family. Check it out!

  5. Ashley L says:

    Looked at any Unitarian Universalist churches? You should! Seriously, your husband might be surprised, too. And lots of Ergo wearing Mamas in my experience.

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