The holiday season is upon us and I've been thinking a lot about the kinds of traditions I want to pass on to my son. When I was a kid, I grew up celebrating Channukah with my father and his side of the family. And although I never had a bat mitzvah and cannot read Hebrew, I have always culturally identified with my Jewish heritage. On my mother's side with Italian ancestry, we celebrated Christmas. Growing up in my full Italian grandfather's home instilled in me a deep connection with our Italian heritage. And thus, it was never strange to me to honor both cultures and celebrate both holidays. I still very much identify with both of my Italian and Jewish ancestry, and want to instill this identity in my son as well.
Camilo is nearly ten months old and just the perfect age to enjoy the holidays. He's smart and mobile—nearly walking already—and I just know he is going to get excited when we light the Menorah and decorate the Christmas tree.
My husband and I plan to celebrate all eight nights of Channukah, teaching him the blessing we say over the candles, eating traditional Jewish cuisine and opening one gift on each night. As a child, my father always bestowed upon us the gift of music for Channukah. I can remember many years that the gift my sisters and I all opened on the first night was always a CD. One year in particular, we all received a different Beatles album. Although most music is downloaded nowadays and Camilo wouldn't know what to do with a CD other than put it in his mouth, I still love the idea of carrying on the tradition of giving music. Camilo is already in love with music and I know that as the years pass, he will grow to appreciate the gift of music more and more—just as I did when I was young.
For Christmas, my mother always gave us a gift on Christmas Eve (in addition, of course, to our Christmas Day presents). The traditional Christmas Eve gift was always pajamas. She has been doing this for more than 30 years. I am beyond excited to continue this tradition with Camilo! There's something so special about putting on a new, snuggly pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve as you get into bed, excited for Christmas morning. In our Italian family, a lot of our Christmas traditions revolve around food. For instance, when I was a child lasagne was the dish of choice for Christmas Eve. And as I have become an adult, my mother, sisters and I have started the tradition of making quiches for breakfast on Christmas Day. Although this year will be a little different—because I can't eat dairy, gluten or eggs still—I do still want to carry on these culinary traditions in the years to come. Camilo and I won't be dairy/gluten/egg-free forever!