Would you believe it if I told you that I never celebrated Christmas growing up? A lot of people I meet don’t believe it, but it’s the truth. I grew up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish family where all such holidays were not celebrated. Not a single Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or most legal holidays were commemorated. Even looking at holiday decorations such as lights and people dressed up as Santa was strictly forbidden. Despite not having celebrated Christmas all those years, we still had plenty to celebrate. Jewish people have loads of their own holidays. Nowadays, I do things my own way.
I love love love the holidays. I can scream it from the rooftops. Any reason to celebrate should be celebrated. My partner Kevin and I celebrate the legal holidays and the Jewish holidays. Everything from Hannukah and Purim to Christmas and Thanksgiving is celebrated in some way. Whether that is making traditional food and listening to that holiday’s music or going to a party and/or synagogue. We are by no means religious, it’s purely to enjoy the beauty of those days and have some fun. I love the traditions from the past and making new traditions.
Finding My Creative Side
For example, I participated in a wreath-making workshop this year. It was the first time in my life making a wreath or any Christmas decoration. I and several other Dutch ladies enjoyed some hot beverages like mulled wine and tea and ate some yummy traditional English dessert called minced pie. While we ate, drank, and listened to holiday music, we designed our wreaths and table centerpieces. The workshop was run by a nice British lady named Pippa who has lived in the Netherlands for over a decade. I’m really surprised that mine turned out so well. I was afraid I wasn’t the artsy type. It just goes to show that you’ll never know unless you try.
When I moved to the Netherlands several years ago, I decided that I was going to decorate my home every year. I never had a tree, lights, ornaments, or anything really like that growing up. And I was ready to make my own traditions. So last year, my friends and I headed to the store. I left with a big Christmas tree and some other decorations. Kevin’s mom gave me six boxes of decorations such as ornaments and candles. So I didn’t have to spend a lot to make my home festive. I also decided to make a gift guide for all of my readers to enjoy. Gift giving has never been made so easy!
I Go All Out Now
And so it began, these last two years I decorate my home all in the holiday spirit. My friend let me borrow her stencils to make designs on the windows that look like snow. I have three Christmas trees. One is a big traditional one. One is a small one. And one is a wire one covered in lights. I have these adorable snowmen and Santa candles that I put everywhere. I don’t dare to light them because I love them so much.
Back sometime this past summer, my good friend Dana finally convinced me to stop biting my nails and get them done. So I do. And I go all out and love them. Every season and holiday my nails are transformed. Christmas is no different. I’m in love with these holiday themed nails. My friend is a legit genius. Everyone is good at something, and nails are something she is absolutely amazing at. My nails give me so much joy, so the three or four hours I sit there getting them done is worth it.
What We Do on the Day Itself
As for Christmas itself, Kevin and I always do something with his family. They are religious about getting the family together. For hours they sit there, eat chocolate and pastries, drink beer and other beverages and enjoy each other’s time. Every year, without fail, the main dish of the night is Chinese Indonesian takeout. It’s strange and different, but it’s their tradition.
In the Netherlands, Christmas is two days. So the first day we go to Kevin’s family. On the second day, we started going to my friend’s house. She is from Romania and makes a traditional Romanian meal. The food is pretty good. Just because I celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t mean I’m not Jewish or don’t celebrate other holidays. I just appreciate the beauty of being together with loved ones and enjoying the celebration. Happy holidays to you and your family!
What are some of your holiday traditions?