Holiday Traditions

As hard as I try, the holiday celebrations in our family are far from instagram-worthy. Most of my friends put on the most incredible Christmas with holiday cheer, traditions, beauty, and fanfare. But for whatever reason, (maybe it is because I am Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas growing up), I always fall short. Simply put, I am #BadAtXmas. I was never told about how Santa operates, the magic of Elf-on-a-shelf, the music, the outfits, the sugar-cookie-creation; all of it is a different language and I don’t know how to speak it. I am the first to admit that I need a private tutor to help me understand HOW CHRISTMAS WORKS.


My kids are also at the age now where they ask about it… why our presents are under the tree in early December, why we open presents well before the 25th (we generally leave town as soon as Winter Break starts), why we don’t have stockings, why there is no Christmas Dinner…we just have never had a “normal” Christmas, and I am having tremendous Mom Guilt. I have to remind myself that I do a lot of things well — like their predictable and constantly well performed bedtime routine, or the fact that I never forget them at school. But holiday traditions are something I need to work on — perhaps a goal for 2018?


As a mixed religion family, we celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas. That said, Hannukah in the Jewish Tradition is not a big ordeal: it is simply lighting of the candles, a prayer, gift exchange, and maybe some latkas and dreidel playing. So we do that and it is fun and all, but there is nothing BIG and HUGE that makes it that memorable and exciting. For Christmas, we are always together as a family somewhere that is not home. We do have a Christmas Tree in our home in NYC, but we don’t have the same traditions and customs that most of my friends do.


So with all of that said, I always breathe a sigh of relief when Christmas and the holidays are over. Once it has passed, I no longer fear my failure as a mom and can concentrate on the things I am better at. So, for those of you who are good at holidays, what and how do you do it? And is it fake it till you make it? Or is it genuine and real? Or do I just embrace the fact that “this” is something I am not good at, and learn from my weaknesses?


Lighting of the candle.  With the Christmas tree in the background.

Another night lighting.

The smile.


I hope everyone has a great week and finishes up 2017 in a strong and loving way.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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  1. I think each family has their own way of having traditions and you shouldn’t feel that yours are any better or worse than anyone else. I am sure being a blended family doesn’t make this time of year simple, especially since children love to ask questions! I was very close to a family in a situation similar to yours, they celebrated both holidays, had what they called a Hanukkah Bush (both Christmas & Hanukkah decor on the tree), had an elf on the shelf (because it helped their 4 year old son listen better during the holidays LOL, Santa is always watching!), would decorate sugar cookies in Hanukkah shapes (the taste didn’t matter because kids love sugar) and celebrated the 8 Nights of Hanukkah and Christmas morning when Santa would leave presents. From the pictures above the children looked very happy and they are learning about both holidays which will make them well rounded adults one day!

    Wishing your family a wonderful New Year!

    XO XO ~ Chic & Shabby By Sara

  2. Sweet Yael, it looks like you are teaching them that the holidays are all about family and love. Which I believe is the true spirit of the holidays (not gifts and sparkle). Hope to see you more this summer! Xoxo

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