We celebrate two religions in our house. There are people who think that wrong. There are people who think that that ends up serving neither religion. We do it anyway.
When I go to my inlaws house for Christmas, my parents are invited as well. My sister-in-law is also married to a Jewish man and his parents are there too. At my mother-in-law’s Christmas table there are more Jews than Christians.
When we host Passover seder in our house, my in-laws and friends join us. There are always more Christians than Jews at our Passover seder.
More than the details of each religion, this love and commonality and underlying lessons is what I want to give my children. They celebrated the Christian holidays with Kim and the Jewish holidays with me.
But, there is of course, a fundamental conflict. Sure.
Maggie put her finger on it when she was four. She figured out that Catholics believed Jesus to be the son of God and Jews didn’t. She said to me from her car seat in the back, “they can’t both be right.”
There’s been a lot of fighting over the fact that they can’t both be right. Wars have been fought and people have died over settling issues of whose religion is the most compassionate and correct.
But not in our house.
Although this question came years before we expected it to, my answer to Maggie was that it’s not knowable who is right so in our house we respect both views. If at some point in her life she wants to choose to become entirely Catholic, entirely Jewish, entirely something else, or entirely nothing that is up to her. She thought a minute and said, “that’s what mom said”.
So here are two Elena stories on religion. Elena, because she was small and cute and the life of a party could get away with being devilish. Kim took the girls to the F O P Christmas party each year. One year they came back and Elena was excited because they had had a Karaoke machine set up. She loved a microphone and was blessed with an imagination that protected her from knowing she had no sense of rhythm or tone. I asked what she had sung and she just grinned at me and went up stairs to brush her teeth.
I looked at Kim and asked “what?” Kim said she sang a song that no one but her and Maggie had recognized. She’d sung the Chanukkah blessings. Not in defiance but in that devilish little way, she’d expressed her Jewish side at a Christian event.
This, of course, went both ways. That next spring at Passover she sat between her two grandfathers. Maggie was stealing the show. She was old enough to read from the Hagaddah when it was her turn. Maggie has always been a good and fearless leader and I was bursting with pride.
When we passed the Matzoh around to split for the blessing, Elena passed it on to my father – her Jewish grandfather – with that devilish look on her face. She nodded her head to him and said “body of Christ.”