Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Interfaith Advent

I have had a brilliant parenting idea and I have never seen it anywhere else and it might be the only one I ever have that's worth sharing so here I go.

Amanda Soule has a box of holiday and winter books that she pulls out every December and puts away after the New Year to preserve the sense of special-ness and anticipation for these books.  (Actually, now that I went back and read the post, she speaks less deliberately about this so my idea must have been percolating even then based on how I altered the memory.)

My mother did something similar, except more intuitively and with fewer gorgeous pictures.  We had our favorite Christmas books that we looked forward to and she had a reason to collect beautiful books for the stack that sat by the fireplace.

I have been figuring out how to celebrate Advent in my little family and Advent calendars are part of my tradition.  But they make Christmas so long!  I know, I know, so do Christmas trees and music and special cookies and all the other things I do.  But calendars seem to completely obliterate Hanukkah altogether, since they take every single day of December as anticipation for Christmas. 

We believe in keeping our Christian and Jewish holidays separate and that works most of the time.  This is the only real situation I can think of where one spiritual practice excludes another spiritual practice, other than when Passover dietary restrictions preclude celebrating Easter through traditional foods.

I began thinking about holiday books and decided to take Soulemama's and my mother's tradition one step further.  I am going to wrap books like presents and number them 1-25 like an Advent calendar.  This way, 9 days of the season, the books can be Hanukkah books and 16 days they can be Christmas or winter-themed.  Now that I think of it, next year I'll make sure I have non-holiday specific paper for the winter books.

My hope is that in future years, the kids will anticipate their favorite books, guessing based on size and shape.  Reading the books together can spur conversations about both holidays and the thoughts they have about their inter-faithness.  If advent means "coming," like the candle-lighting ceremonies taught me, the Advent season can prepare us for both holidays.

On a related not, a few weeks ago, I bought Esther a Hanukkah book by Lemony Snicket called The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, which is maybe the best Hanukkah book I've ever read.  Many pages required me to mock-scream as I read the titular latke's lines.  We read it once and then I put it away.  I got it out again now to wrap it and Esther pulled it out of the pile and went to read it to herself.  Apparently, my dramatic rendition made an impression because she began mock-screaming exactly as I had done.  Three weeks later.  This kid.  Seriously.

No comments: