Reflections on Living an Interfaith Life

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​​We’re more than halfway through Passover, and everyone is tired of matzo. Can’t we have pizza for dinner? Dinner rolls with our chicken? Pasta? Pleeeeeease. 

We have always been an interfaith family. We didn’t attend religious services but we observed and celebrated all of the major holidays of both Catholicism and Judaism. That was how I was raised Jewish – following the traditions, participating in the observances, eating the holiday food. We’ve always had a Christmas tree in my married life. We are so blended that when I converted to Catholicism, my daughter assumed that my husband was the Jewish one since we’re both faiths and I was Catholic.

People blend their interfaith families in a myriad of ways. For me, I try to find a way to blend without overshadowing or ignoring either. I also don’t usually like to combine them. For example, I don’t like Jewish related ornaments on Christmas trees. I think that keeping the holiday traditions distinctive is better for our kids to appreciate both equally. We still celebrate Chanukah on Christmas if it falls that way. We will light the Chanukah candles and decorate the tree on the same day if timing demands it.

If we were spending Easter with my mother-in-law, I would not object to the kids eating bread or her special Peeps bunny cake. They deserved their special time with their grandmother during her special holiday.

I dread looking at the calendar to see when Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur fall because my son’s birthday is in October and there’s a chance I will have to choose between fasting and praying and celebrating my son’s birthday. (My son wins every time. One thing about both the Jewish and Catholic faiths is that family is a priority.)

This year, Passover began right in the middle of the Triduum. From Holy Thursday through Easter, I spend about 11 and a half  hours at church between the prayer services, parish dinner, masses, and the Easter Vigil. It is exhausting, but I love it. Right before that, my son was in the hospital, and our oven wasn’t working.

I did not even mention Passover until after Easter dinner*. Yes, we missed the first three nights, but Monday morning, bright and early, we were a bread free house. I realize it’s not kosher, but it’s kosher style, and they still get the dietary restrictions as well as the stories and the celebration of freedom from Egyptian slavery. They also love latkes, which I make more during the abundance of potatoes for Passover than for Chanukah. This year I made fried chicken tenders using crushed matzo in place of the bread crumbs. I had never done that before and it was well received. I believe we have a new tradition.

After the huge windstorm we had yesterday, we’ve had no power since about 12:30am, and won’t be getting it back until later tonight, or so I’m told. That means we will probably need to eat out, which means I probably won’t restrict their food choices. I can always make the matzo lasagna tomorrow night. Obviously, grocery shopping is also postponed.

The most important aspect of sharing a house with multiple religions is respect. Our two faiths are equal in importance and in worth. They are valued with the same respect and reverence. My time at church is important to me, and my family understands and accepts that. My time making latkes is also valuable and important to me.

We light Yartzeit candles for my parents and now for my mother-in-law, who wasn’t Jewish. I know she wouldn’t mind. We also have mass said for her.

I would love to hear from any readers who juggle this very issue of interfaith or multi-faith within your families. I think we do a good job, but it’s good to give acknowledgment to others who are doing a good job as well as getting ideas on other things we can do differently or better.

I hope your Easter is a blessed one and Chag Sameach for your Passover.

What other holidays do you celebrate (they don’t necessarily have to be at this time of the year)?

[*My husband jiggled the heating element for the oven, and so we were able to have turkey dinner for Easter.]

Putting Together Your Writer’s Kit

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​Towards the end of this week, my biannual writing group returns for the spring. That weekly sojourn for a few weeks to recharge the writer and see what we can do. In addition to that, this month marks the first time I’m embarking on Camp Nanowrimo, the summer camp version of November’s event. This is a little different, a little more at ease. I was invited to a cabin in Tennessee, so I thought I’ve never been to Tennessee, why not. (Just a quick note: the cabins are virtual – it’s a chat room with a few like-minded writers.Unfortunately, I won’t be traveling to Tennessee.) It will give me the impetus to do more with my Wales book, maybe get an outline or an ongoing theme, but definitely something.

With these two embarkments and my commitment to this site, I need to get my writing tools in order so that they can easily be adapted to any environment: home, library, coffee shop, cabin in the woods.

In the past I’ve used a first aid kit that I’ve gotten for free at Target. They usually have them readily available in the spring, and are often on sale – buy three items, get the kit for free. It’s a good deal, and if you actually pay for the kit, it’s not more than $6.

Currently, I’m using a slightly bigger version – this one is a Bible case. I’m sure you’ve seen them in the religion section of any bookstore. They’re large enough to fit a Bible, a notebook for Bible study, pens, etc. The one I use, I found at a bargain warehouse for $6.99. It fits everything I need, and it’s small enough that I can toss it into a tote bag to go wherever I need to. It also has a handle like a handbag, so it can be carried on its own.

None of the bags, or writing tool kits need to cost a small fortune if you know what you need ahead of time and can search for your most important specifications.

And, of course, you can reuse something you already have hidden in your closet.

The basic layout of my tool kit is that it zips around, and has one flat pocket on the outside back. Inside, I can open it to lay flat. On both sides is a slip pocket. In the center spine is an attached fabric bookmark. It is religious in nature, but if that bothers you, it can be removed with scissors. On the right side of mine, over the slip pocket, is a clear half pocket and four loops for writing instruments. 

Depending on how large your items are, you might be able to fit a cell phone and very flat wallet inside. That way, you only need to carry the case. I usually can’t do that, but one day, maybe.

What do I carry to make my case a writer’s tool kit?

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April: Quiet, Rebirth, Reassessment

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​April.

Spring has sprung. For a day and then the snow comes again, dumping, flurrying, and then gone in a sweep of wind.

April showers bring May flowers, but I find that the showers come in March with the daffodils, April is mud season, and May is very purple and yellow, at least in my backyard.

April is quiet. The kids are still in school without the end of the year frenzy.

Birds are chirping, bunnies are burrowing, squirrels are fleeing, and mice are leaving garages and attics. The shutter is half falling off and the gate is bent; the driveway is oil-stained and the weeds are limp.

The tea is warm, though.

Reassess. Recharge. Re-emerge.