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My family practices a variety of religions; one of my grandmothers is Jewish, the other is agnostic. One of my grandfathers is Epicopalian and the other is Muslim. Both of my parents are agnostic. As you can see, this makes for a complicated winter Holiday season in my family. We celebrate Christmas. Every year that I can remember, we have always celebrated Christmas, so did both of my parents. But never do we associate it with religion. I did not know why Christmas was celebrated until I was about seven years old. I just knew I got to open presents (mostly Legos when I was a little kid) and that I would go to see my family about fifteen miles away.

Every February we would go down to Florida to visit my great grandmother on my dad’s side. I learned that she was Jewish and lived in Austria in the 1940s. She had escaped the Nazis and moved to the US with her Aunt and Uncle. So when I was eight, when Christmas time came around I asked why we celebrate Christmas and not Hanukkah. My dad said “I’m not sure, we can celebrate Hanukkah if you want.” I ultimately decided to stick with Christmas as that is what I was accustomed to, but I wonder how my holiday season would be different had I chose to celebrate Hanukkah. I also wonder why we celebrate anything, as none of my immediate family members are religious, but our celebration of Christmas is not about celebrating anything to do with religion. I am fine with how we celebrate holidays, as they’re more about seeing family, enjoying each other’s company and, of course, opening presents.

© Aaron Meehan. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.