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Holiday greeting need not prompt a religious claim


Holiday greeting need not prompt a religious claim

DEAR ABBY: Every year around the holidays, wellintentioned strangers wish me and my family "Merry

Christmas!” Even though we are Jewish, I have always regarded it to be a kind gesture to spread good cheer. I smile and return the greeting.

My children have asked me why I don’t tell people we’re Jewish and that we don't celebrate Christmas. I

don’t feel I need to educate strangers when they’re just trying to be friendly, but my kids don't agree. We've had

several discussions about being friendly and polite, but still they ask if being Jewish is something to keep secret or be embarrassed about.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but I do want to give my kids the message that we are proud of who we are. How do you recommend I handle this situation, because it happens a lot?


DEAR JILL: Explain to your children that you return the greeting to be polite, not because you feel being Jewish is anything to be ashamed of.

The strangers who do this are saying something nice, and you

are returning the greeting.

However, the response to

people to whom you are closer and with whom there will be a deeper relationship should be different. To them, your

children should explain that

they are Jewish and that you

celebrate Hanukkah rather than Christmas. When you're with

them, if they feel the need to assert their Jewish identity, they

should go right ahead and do it.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

Dear Abby

abigail Van Buren

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