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Dec-22-2009 11:50printcomments

Christmas Trees, Menorahs, and Being Apart on Holidays

We represent the diversity that we read about, that our schools and universities preach about, and that our future likely looks like.

Minora and Christmas tree
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(AGOURA HILLS, Calif.) - This holiday season my wife and I will celebrate our first year of marriage on separate continents. As we are different races and religions, there are usually challenges we encounter at this time of year, so maybe being 7,000 miles apart will make it easier. We’ve actually resolved the big conundrum for me--the Christmas tree.

I don’t care if you call it a Hannukah bush or an ordinary tree; it is a Christmas tree, pure and simple. It represents the birth of Christ and it’s not just a secular symbol. But, it matters to my wife, so we resolved the issue by agreeing, like so many mixed religious couples, to celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah. Since my boys were raised Jewish, and my younger son just became a Bar Mitzvah, it really isn’t an issue for me anymore.

Truly, it’s more to honor my wife, her background and her religion, versus a belief that it matters in our stage in life. My boys have been raised Jewish, have completed the major ritual of becoming a Bar Mitzvah and are now old enough to choose their path in life, and to be able to enjoy both holidays without confusion.

I believe, strongly, that a new marriage with young kids that decides to celebrate both holidays will only confuse children and the ultimate result will likely be their rejection of both religions. In our case, that is unlikely as my boys have had a distinctive Jewish upbringing and now, post Bar Mitzvah, can enjoy my wife’s holiday and its joys and traditions without their core values being challenged or confused.

Call me conciliatory or wimpy, I don’t care, but I think life is different in a second marriage when the kids have already been inculcated in one religion. Exposure now to different traditions won’t hurt and it is inevitable in their daily life anyway.

My older son is dating a “gentile” as my mom would have said, and I think she’s a lovely girl. My younger son’s best friends are mostly Asian, therefore not Jewish, and I don’t see any problem as they’re good kids, smart kids, and mostly as academic and wholesome as he is.

Wow, what a different world we live in since I was a kid. My mother would ask me the last name of every friend I had, and especially any girl that I might’ve dated when I was old enough to date.

I didn’t realize why, at first, until I was older and understood that the last name was a clue to their religion. Now, I ask my boys about their friend’s interests, their character, and their success at school. When and if I meet them, I might notice then their racial difference or ask about their backgrounds.

Isn’t this the way it’s supposed to be? I think so and I’m living proof of the diversity of the world today. My ex-wife was half-Japanese and my second wife is 100% Chinese and Christian.

My boys are therefore, ¼ Japanese and, with my second wife’s background, completely confused about their identity. Just kidding. But, I do seriously think we represent what the future of the world will be like--a blended mix of race and religion with, I hope, respect for all our cultures.

I’m not sure where radical Islam fits into this future or our world today, but I’ll leave that hot potato political subject for the political commentators and writers. I will just focus on the Judeo-Christian basis of America and the racial mix of my own family. At least on that, I can speak with some authority and limit my rhetoric!

I’ve got completely off the track since this column is about how I will be spending my first wedding anniversary and this holiday season about 7,000 miles away from one of my sons and my wife. She’s taking my recent Bar Mitzvah boy to Japan as his present for his substantial achievement in becoming a Bar Mitzvah and in honor of his heritage and his interest in manga (Japanese comic books and art). I will be in the mountains, skiing, with my older son.

I guess you could say this is a very modern marriage in that we worked things out this way. We set up the Christmas tree the first week in December and had the Hannukah menorahs ready to light the first week of Hannukah, which this year, didn’t overlap with Christmas at all.

We represent the diversity that we read about, that our schools and universities preach about, and that our future likely looks like. In this case I really like it plus feel very grateful and lucky for how our family has reconstituted itself.

Please visit to contact Bruce and to enjoy the various features his new Web site offers, including contact info for advice and coaching, an archive of his columns, general contact info, links to his published work, photo galleries, and reader comments, plus much more. Bruce Sallan was an award-winning television executive and producer for 25 years. Google him if you really want to know more (e.g. his credits). When his boys were quite young, Bruce left show biz to become a full-time Dad. Shortly thereafter his marriage ended and his wife abandoned their children, leaving the State. Bruce found himself a full-time single Dad, in his late forties, as well as a returning single man to the changed world of cyber-dating. It became a classic “sandwich” situation when he also began to care for his ailing parents. He began writing various blogs on the dating sites he used as well as articles for local publications. The goal of his column, A Dad’s Point-of-View, is to primarily focus on parenting and occasionally other issues from the male perspective. Presently, his column is available in over 75 newspapers and Web sites in the U.S. and internationally. Bruce lives in Agoura, California with his second (and last) wife and two boys, who are 16 and 13. Find Bruce on Facebook and add him as your friend and join his “A Dad’s Point-of-View” fan page. Just be sure to tell him you saw him here. He can be reached at:

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Josh A. December 25, 2009 9:15 pm (Pacific time)

My girlfriend of 2 1/2 years is catholic, and spending the next 4 months in college in California. I am Buddhist with a Christian upbringing, living in Salem. So I guess I can relate to the mixed faith, far away thing quite well this season... Best to the both of us. I need well wishing for sure. This will be the longest time we have been apart. I see it as a test. If we come back well, we will be stronger than ever. If not, then it was good to know before marriage!

Zach December 22, 2009 2:25 pm (Pacific time)

I am a Christian and will wish people a merry Christmas. If they are of a different believe and wish me a happy something else in return why would I be offended? They have still wished me well. We need to get over this PC junk, after all... it was also John Adams who said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Sarah Smile December 22, 2009 1:46 pm (Pacific time)

I think the average person is really not up to speed on religious behaviors, or specifically the truth about religiously motivated military actions. This is a nice article, I enjoyed it, and I also understand where Vic is coming from, but let's try to keep the holiday spirit alive, in whatever culture. Merry Christmas, and also Happy Ramadan and Happy Hannukah.

Vic December 22, 2009 1:09 pm (Pacific time)

Dont know if it occurred to you, but there is also Islam...not just "radical Islam". How about radical Jews? Where do they fit in? How about the rabbis who call for killing all goy? Where do they fit in? Judeo-Christianity always amused me....Christians are the unworthy red-headed stepchildren so to speak, who can gain their undeserved grace by cozying up to and enabling "The Chosen Ones"...kind of a salvation by association that God is willing, however reluctantly, to impart to the "Not Chosen"...sounds pathetic to me personally. I like Jeffeson's observation: "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites." or how about this quote from John Adams : "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it." May 5, 1817

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