Person: “Do you have your Christmas tree up yet?”
Me: “My family does Chanukah…”
Person: “So does that mean that you don’t get Christmas presents?!?”
Me: “Well, I get Chanukah presents…”
Person: “DOES THAT MEAN EIGHT DAYS OF PRESENTS?!?”
Me: “Yeah, but that’s not really the point of Chanukah.”
Person: “Okay, that’s it! I wish I was Jewish, so I can get nine days of presents!”
Growing up in a Messianic household I have had hundreds of conversations similar to this. The last Christmas that my immediate family has celebrated Christmas I was three years old. Therefore, growing up around the December holiday season I have always had a loneliness because most of my friends have Christmas trees in their homes, wake up early on December 25 to spend time with family, and have other American Christmas traditions that I am not aware of. It is a feeling of being left out of having the traditions and memories that my Christian friends. Each year after attending my synagogue that feeling has faded away more and more. In some ways I wish that I could completely observe this holiday. I honestly cannot remember the years that my family completely celebrated Christmas, but I also don’t think that I could ever really do that because of the strong roots of the Messianic faith that I have been raised in. I know several Jews who are offended by a Christmas tree solely based on the Christmas tree’s pagan history that is NOT talked about among Evangelical circles and even secular circles.
“So if you don’t celebrate Christmas does that not mean that you believe in Christ’s birth?”
That is a question that I have been asked many times! Especially by conservative Christians. My answer? I do believe that Christ was born, lived a sinless life in this broken world, and died for my sins on a cross, and rose again on the third day. Does that sound like I believe in Christ’s birth? During the council of Nicaea, it was decided when Christmas would be celebrated. Messianics believe that Christ was probably born during the fall, maybe during Sukkot.
When I am asked about the Chanukah presents I tend to get slightly annoyed. Personally, I don’t really enjoy getting a present from someone. I would much rather have a hug than a Chanukah gift. From someone who has to explain this a lot of times, Chanukah is not about the gifts. It is about the miracle that the oil lasted for eight nights! It is a celebration that G-d prevailed and supplied enough. How cool is that?
During this season of “presents,” I challenge you to be reminded of G-d’s presence! With faith in G-d anything can happen. The Bible says that with a little bit of faith you can move mountains. Where are your mountains moving?