No, we do not celebrate Christmas. This has come as a bit of a shock to some family members as it is the "Christmas" season.
Recent conversations have revolved around one topic lately, "what should we get the kids for Christmas?" The reply being wholly unappreciated, "we aren't participating in Christmas, but here's what the kids have mentioned for Chanukkah..."
"You aren't putting up a tree or lights or ornaments this year?"
"No, we do not celebrate Christmas."
Strictly speaking, we never celebrated Christmas from a religious stand point anyway. Without getting into the whole "well, Jesus wasn't born in December anyway" argument, it just wasn't something we believed. Our Christmas celebration was entirely secular. We exchanged gifts, we encouraged the kids to think about those less fortunate, we gave to charity and we took the time to be together as a family and focus on that relationship.
Yes, we used to put up a tree and decorate it with ornaments. However, over the past few years the tree has been coming out later and being taken down earlier. Since we began the conversion process, we have put more emphasis on Jewish holidays and less on the holidays we celebrated as children.
While the transition went almost totally unnoticed for the last 2 years but not so this year. Our children and families knew last year that that was to be the end of Christmas in our home. The children are fine with this decision... some family, not so much.
Maybe they do not like losing the extra shopping days? Chanukah comes early this year, December 8th-16th. Maybe they do not like that we put so much less emphasis on presents and gifts and more on family and tzedakah (giving to others)? Maybe they feel we have somehow "betrayed" them by converting to Judaism? Whatever the reason, they do not share with us. So far some of the family has been very tight-lipped... thought through their actions and the few words they do speak, their displeasure is noted.
I can't help but be sad. These people are a part of my life and family. I love them deeply. Yet I feel so hurt that I cannot share with them the biggest and best change for all of us. Converting to Judaism has been wonderful for our family. We have grown stronger as individuals, my husband and I have never had such a wonderful relationship with each other, and as a family unit we are much stronger and closer than ever before. We attribute all of this to our conversion. And to not be able to share that with some members of our extended family... it hurts.
I only hope that these members of the family some together with us before our oldest takes a huge step next year. We are, right now, planning Yaakov's bar mitzvah next fall. I want our families to be a part of this. Yaakov wants these family members to be a part of his bar mitzvah, he wants them to share in his enthusiasm and excitement and joy. I want for them to share in it as well, instead of getting hung up on 1 day in the dark of December.