We have a tradition in my family of using Christmas Eve as an excuse for a hearty home-cooked family dinner, usually followed by making a fire in the fireplace and enjoying games or a movie together. Normally it’s my super-dense split pea soup, but this year I made that for Chanukah. I made so much, in fact, that we were eating it for a week afterwards. Time for something different. So tonight, I’ll be doing stuffed cabbage (veggie for me, ground turkey for everyone else), and then we’ll move on to s’mores and Austin Powers.
We’re not Christian, of course. Yet it feels somehow right to borrow what we appreciate from the cultural environment we live in. As my Rabbi points out, Jews have done that for thousands of years — the tzitzit or fringes on our prayer shawls were appropriated from Egyptian royalty. The key, I think, is to borrow in a way that celebrates the best of both traditions. For most Americans, Christmas seems to be less about Jesus than shopping, but we can all agree on this as a time for family togetherness, as the year draws to a close.
Now we’ll see how the stuffed cabbage comes out….