A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Interview with Felicia Miller-Stehr, Author of "Are You Chanukah or Christmas?"

Felicia Miller-Stehr and daughter Sofia

Hip Slope Mama spoke to Felicia Miller-Stehr, author of “Are You Chanukah or Christmas?”. The book is the perfect holiday book for children 2-7 years old who not only celebrate one holiday or two, but who have the desire to find meaning in both.

HSM: What inspired you to write a book about a child that celebrates both Chanukah & Christmas?
Felicia Miller-Stehr: I was inspired to write this book because of my daughter's curiosity. When she was about 4 or 5 years old and she became aware of what holiday she celebrated and wondered if her friends or the mailman, or the doctor or the lady on the bench did the same. She would ask "Is Alexa Chanukah?" and I would say "No I think she is Christmas.". We would do this quite often as we walked to school , and one day she asked me about a particular friend and I said, "I think she is both...she is Chanukah and Christmas"..I think her Dad is Chanukah and her Mom is Christmas. They have a Menorah and a Christmas tree. From there she started telling me how many kids she knew that celebrated both holidays, and "Are You Chanukah or Christmas " was born.

HSM: As a parent, what has your experience been teaching your kids about different faiths and holiday celebrations?
Felicia Miller-Stehr: As a parent of two young girls ages four and seven, I have tried to teach them that people have different faiths and different ideas and celebrate holidays differently, but ultimately the essence is all the same- that holidays are about family and friends, food, love and traditions. Each person can tell you a story about a Chanukah or Christmas that was memorable to them and most likely it involves family or friends. To me that is what the holidays are all about. I hope to instill that in my children- the similarities rather then the differences of the two faiths. "We open eight presents one for each night, they open presents on Christmas Day, but we all open presents", "We eat potato pancakes and they drink eggnog" ...the similarities are that we all eat festive food to celebrate a special time that happens each year". I have explained that each faith and family have their own traditions and customs that have been passed down thru generations and try to emphasize the cultural celebration , rather than the religious. Ultimately we are all the same and that the essence of holidays is what's important.

HSM: Do you have any advice for parents who are raising their kids in a multi-heritage/ or multi faith household?
Felicia Miller-Stehr: My advice for parents who are raising their kids in a multi/heritage household is to expose them to both cultures. Take them to synagogue and to church, celebrate all the holidays throughout the year. As they get older, I believe they might lean towards one or the other. One of their parents may have a stronger feeling about one of the religions and the child will end up going that direction. The many families who I have spoken with who celebrate both holidays say that they although they may be raising the child one religion that they still celebrate both holidays because one of the parents was brought up with a different religion and wants to still bring his or her traditions into the home, even though they are now one religion. Parents have been saying that they are thrilled that there is a children's book that can explain the different holidays to their children and let them know that is OK to celebrate two!

"Are You Chanukah or Christmas?" is available on www.areyouchanukahorchristmas.com, www.authorhouse.com and www.bn.com.