the story of Judah and the Maccabees.
We also teach our children about Ramadan, and Kwanzaa, and we do activities for those holidays as well. Our kids know that different people believe different things, but basically, we're all trying to live our lives in the best way possible.
We're not a religious family, but the main holiday we celebrate this time of year is Christmas. However, we want to foster a spirit of tolerance and curiosity in our children. The town we live in is overwhelmingly Christian, and although it is culturally diverse, it doesn't reflect the religious diversity of America. When my kids go to college, enter the work world, or travel, they will meet people from all kinds of backgrounds. Not teaching my children to embrace diversity would be a grave disservice to them.
My friend Mom-In-A-Million recently wrote about people who are offended by the greeting, "Happy Holidays." I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around this. It is not meant as an offense against Christianity, or anyone's deep belief in the spirit of Christmas, and the importance of the birth of Christ in the Christian religions.
Greeting people with "Happy Holidays" simply reflects the understanding that Jesus is not the "Reason for the Season" for all. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Most of my friends celebrate Thanksgiving, and New Year's, and something in between: Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or some combination of those. We also have many people in our community who celebrate none of those holidays, because it is against their religion to do so.
I was told recently that I basically needed to suck it up because "America was founded on Christian principles." Particularly as someone who served in the armed forces, wrapping intolerance in the American flag does not sit well with me.
To truly be patriotic means to fully embrace the fact that the First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees all Americans both freedom of religion and the right to free speech. There is simply nothing "American" about pressing one's spiritual beliefs on another person. While our Founding Fathers may have been Christian, they made it clear that Americans would be free to worship as they wished -- or not to worship at all.
After we were done with our latke-sour cream-chocolate coin fest, we rocked out to Hanukkah music. When I was a kid, I learned The Dreidel Song and that was it. Now there is all kinds of awesomeness. There is even a Heavy Metal Hanukkah song; if you're into Heavy Metal, it's here.
If you need more reason to celebrate diversity, check out these rockin' Hanukkah videos! (It turns out Rants from Mommyland fell in love with the Glee-tastic Maccabeats video at the same time I did because Lydia and I were separated at birth. It's like we're psychically connected. Or psychotically. Whatever.)
Impossible not to rock out to this one:
Jewish reggae? 'Nuff said.
Not ashamed at all to admit that a LOT of what I know about other holidays comes from Elmo's World - Happy Holidays!
Love the different cultures all rocking out. I heart NY. Also? National Dreidel Association t-shirt? I need one.
I loves me some flash mob dancing.
It's kind of a classic at this point. I had the Adam Sandler version in here originally and then one of my best friends sent me this one. Neil Diamond's chest hair really takes it up a notch.
To my Jewish friends and readers, Happy Hanukkah.