Before we start, let’s recall your challenge first:
I’m a messianic Jew – a Jewish person who is also Christian by faith and I celebrate Christmas with my husband’s family.
My aunt and uncle are the only family members I have in Denmark and I would like to invite them for Christmas. The problem is that while I’m less observant and quite relaxed about kosher food (avoid pork but don’t mind its presence in my home) my aunt is strict and she only buys kosher meat. I’m afraid she won’t feel comfortable eating with us since there will be pork served.
I tried asking the family to not serve pork for Christmas but they say it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without it.
How can I solve it?
What are your priorities?
We fully understand your dilemma, although if everyone had the same priority – spending family time together – this challenge wouldn’t be so difficult to solve. See, customs and traditions are very important to us humans – they give us a feeling of belonging to a certain cultural/religious group and contribute to our sense of identity. Essential as they may be, they shouldn’t dominate our most fundamental need – to love and share the love with others.
We know, however, that the world is not so simple. If people resigned from their cultures, religions, and nationalities and put the love on the top instead, our world would be a conflict-free place where we all sit, hold hand and sing “kumbaya”. And although this “John Lennon type-of-a-vision” sounds pretty naive and utopian for the time being, maybe there is something you could do to implement at least an aspect of it in your Christmas celebrations.
Your Options are:
1. Don’t invite your aunt and uncle and spend Christmas “the traditional pork way” with your husband’s family
2. Invite your aunt and uncle to your “Non-Kosher” dinner and hope for the best (risky)
3. Persuade your husband’s family to resign from pork this year
4. Visit your aunt and uncle at their place first and afterward join your Danish family for Christmas dinner
5. Have an open and emphatic discussion with both families and propose a creative compromise
Agree on what’s really important
While we were thinking about possible solutions for this challenge, we have naturally come up with the obvious (Option 1 to 4). If no compromise can be reached there will be some choices you have to make, but it all depends on you and your family members. If you all agreed that “the number one priority” for all of you is to spend time together and not the type of meat that is available on the table, Option 5 could be your perfect way to go.
Talk with both sides of your family – openly and honestly. Maybe you are worried about your aunt’s attitude unnecessarily? She indeed may be strict with her own food choices butshe may not be as bothered by others eat pork around her as you expect? Especially that it is not “just another get-together” type of thing but a Danish Christmas dinner, where serving pork is a tradition. As she doesn’t want to compromise her customs, she should expect from others to do it for her; besides, she will be a guest at your place.
However, in order to minimize her discomfort down to the minimum, why not proposing the following: How about serving the “Non-Kosher” food at the main dining table and organize an additional table (could be a coffee table) where only pork is present? Here the discussion with your Danish family would be needed; at the beginning, they may feel slightly skeptical about it, but if you express how important it is for you to have ALL your family together for Christmas they should agree to it.
You could try to implement additional measures to make everyone comfortable (for instance, ask the Danish part of a family to cook and bring pork so the kitchen is “Kosher”), but an essential part here is to be open and understanding. And remind everyone that although Christmas is all about the tradition, the most important one is to share the love and spend it together.