Monday, December 08, 2008

Happy Hanukkah

I think one of the greatest aspects of being in a gay-headed family is one of the things people often deride: our inevitable lack of direct genetic relation. Like many other infertile couples, until science advances, at least one parent will always be genetically unrelated to their child (well, unrelated is misleading as humans share so many genes it's hard to quibble about a tiny percentage of single nucleotide polymorphisms, but some people do and you get the point).

I think nothing more shows the meaning of family, though, than the ability of some to get beyond those Darwinian urges and just love.

Which brings me to the fact that our boys are ethnically Jewish, and neither Rob or I are. We've debated back and forth how far into Jewish culture we should get, if at all. There's the idea that, because they are our children and genetics don't matter to either of us, we should just keep passing on our LDS-Christian-rural Salt Lake culture, green jello and all. There's also the idea that, because their genes carry some cultural baggage in the eyes of the greater public, we should change our culture to show how the child has changed our family, to show some sort of integration and pride to those who'd pick on yet another minority. Heck, when I was in High School, being Jewish was still a bit of a problem in Utah and such bias still hangs around, I'm sure.

So far, though, I've leaned towards just sticking with what we know.

I suppose these decisions are differently made when your child is visually put in a different racial category. Outsiders may continually remind them they are different from their parents and so it makes more sense for parents to take on a new cultural dynamic. While it's clear we're not all genetically related, we look to be in many of the other artificial categories; people tell us our boys almost look like clones of Rob and I. But the twins know how they came to be and they know they are, in significant part, ethnically Jewish, just as their dad is predominantly French and their pop is predominantly German/English. And they aren't shy telling people about such info. We've left no traumatic surprises about our family's history for them to have in the future and that's worked great so far; such facts are just facts to them now, like their eye color.

Recently their school began teaching about Hanukkah, though, along with Christmas and they were bringing home related work. The other day Brian sang us a song about the menorah and we asked if he thought we should light a menorah. At a yes, we researched the meaning behind it and consulted a Jewish friend, to make sure it wasn't any more offensive to Judaism for us to do so as it would be to Christianity for us agnostics to put an angel on our tree.

In the end, this year, we'll be incorporating one more culture into our holidays.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a menorah, or, well... you probably would, considering where we live. It wasn't easy, but we found one. This was the best we could find:
I'd like to have had something a bit more simple, but the kids like it.

Anyway, I now hope you all have a Happy Hanukkah!

(We're Chris Buttar's nightmare, aren't we?)

11 comments:

Evan said...

I use to always be jealous of my Jewish friend when I was younger... I thought it was so unfair that he got seven days of presents.

Kengo Biddles said...

Evan: He probably got seven days of presents in the form of socks the first day, undies the second, a t-shirt the third, &c. I like it all in one blow. :D

Scot: I think it would be well worth your while to let your boys embrace some of their cultural heritage...I mean, technically, if they decided when they got older to emigrate to Israel, they could, so ... you know, it helps them to know the culture they have in them, as well.

Queers United said...

That's cool, it will make another fun fairytale story for the kids.

Java said...

We are in the situation of having adopted children who are obviously not biologically related to us. We are Caucasian, they are African American. It's really tricky sometimes to know what and how much of the culture to share with them.

playasinmar said...

Oh no you did NOT just bring nucleotide polymorphisms into this debate!

Do you realize how many grad students and stuffy old professors you just asked Google to lead to your blog?!

[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

Chanukah tovah!

chosha said...

Well it is a menorah with two guys on it. :) Or if the kids prefer, it could be twin boys.

Scot said...

Evan "I thought it was so unfair that he got seven days of presents."

Well, we're not going that far :-), and if we did it's be like Kengo says: underwear.

Kengo "I mean, technically, if they decided when they got older to emigrate to Israel, they could, so"

In one of their lat teen early twenties rebellion scenarios I've imagined them doing that. They like bacon too much to become orthodox, at least.

QU "That's cool, it will make another fun fairytale story for the kids."

Yeah, I like the whole light lasted longer thing while in tough times. I've had to read up on the Maccabees.

Java: How far do you go? I'm just winging it and would love to know :-).

"Do you realize how many grad students and stuffy old professors you just asked Google to lead to your blog?!"

All according to plan. What's odd is the the search term that gets most people hear is "coconuts kill more people than sharks" from this.

Craig "Chanukah tovah!"

Yes. (Are you trying to reveal my ignorance of Hebrew, because I'll just admit to it right now :-).)

Chosha "Well it is a menorah with two guys on it. :) Or if the kids prefer, it could be twin boys."

As we've no ethic of religious claim to the Star of David; it best not be Rob and I :-).

Guy said...

I understand the dilemma. It's hard to know the right balance. We pretty much skip Kwanzaa, do a lot of other things, but struggle with some other aspects of Black culture, not knowing what's best.

It's funny, we know SO many LGBT Jewish families here, but every year Emma asks, "Why don't they like Christmas?" She doesn't know about the seven days of Hanukkah gifts, I guess... ;)

Scot said...

Our boys, yesterday, brought up those 7 days of gifts. Clever, I thought: get the menorah, ask for the ritual, and then ask about the presents. We thought about it and ruled that we'll just light the candles and they'll get to open a gift on the last night. We need the underwear and socks to stuff the stockings.

[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

It means "Happy Chanukah"

Well, it's a transliteration into Roman letters of: "חנוכה טובה"

Anyways, I think this is really cool. Personally I'm fascinated with Jewish culture and the languages Hebrew and Yiddish. So much so that I was president of the Hebrew Club at BYU one year. The food for the Seder was delicious.