With the holiday season approaching, we are wondering what and how do we want to celebrate. Christmas? New Year’s? Both?
We are not religious. We have our own beliefs, but we do not belong to any religion. We grew up in a country where religion was prohibited for decades. We grew up in a country where, so as not to fight with the strong traditions, the Christmas tree and gifts and meals were all re-allocated to New Year’s celebrations. Many people in my birth country put the tree on December 31st and open presents on January 1st. “Grandpa Frost” – the Russian analog of Santa Claus – comes on the New Year’s night to those who behaved. It’s basically the same holiday – but stripped off of all the religious connotations. That’s what we grew up with.
Ever since we moved to Canada, we celebrated both holidays – Christmas and New Year’s, but kept the gift exchange to the New Year’s. It’s nice to celebrate when most of your neighbours celebrate, too – so we adopted the Christmas tradition into our house, too. Still stripped of all the religious connotations. We put the tree somewhere mid-December, we bought a few CDs with Xmas music, we even made apple-stuffed duck last year for Xmas (turkey is too big).
But now that we have Timothy, we wonder. All Timothy’s friends will get presents on the 25th. Won’t it be too cruel to make him wait until January 1st for Grandpa Frost’s gifts? Everyone will be sharing the stories and showing off their gifts – and Timothy will be sitting in the corner, empty-handed?
Now, I know there are lots of kids who don’t have Xmas trees and Santa Clauses at all. Lots of my friends are Jewish, but quite a few of them succumb and give presents regardless…
So we decided that we can keep with celebrating both holidays – to carry on the New Year’s tradition – and give gifts on both. One holiday with a big gift, one – with a small, symbolic one. The question remains open – which should be which. Which holiday commands a big present and which – small?..