LUCKY SEVERSON, guest anchor: This week we have a holiday convergence. December 25 -- Christmas Day -- is also the first night of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights. For the growing number of interfaith families who observe the rituals of both holidays, this year presents an unusual challenge. We visited the Miller family in Takoma Park, Maryland, to find out how they're handling this year's "December dilemma."
Sue Katz Miller and her family are adding the final touches to their Christmas tree and also looking forward to the celebration of Hanukkah. This year, for the first time since 1959, it begins on the evening of Christmas Day.
Miller is Jewish; her husband, Paul, Episcopalian.
SUE KATZ MILLER: Our children have two cultures. They have two sets of extended family.
SEVERSON: Their children, Aimee and Ben, attend an interfaith Sunday school where they study both Jewish and Christian religious traditions.
Ms. MILLER: For an interfaith family, it's especially important to keep the two separate in order to help the children understand what is a Jewish ritual and what is a Christian ritual.
SEVERSON: Edmund Case, the publisher of Interfaithfamily.com, an online advocacy and magazine resource, agrees.
EDMUND CASE (Publisher, Interfaithfamily.com Online Magazine): I wouldn't recommend having a -- what is obviously a Christmas tree and you know, having blue and white tinsel or hanging Jewish stars from it. I think that that really is blending and mish, you know, mashing things together, which I think is not a good idea.
Ms. MILLER: I don't see a conflict because Hanukkah is always something that you celebrate in the evening and, by then, Christmas is over anyway. The only sort of adjustment that I think we'll make this year is that that first night of Hanukkah, the kids will not get a present because every year we have one night where, instead of getting a present, the kids give to a charity. That's sort of something that feels very Jewish, to do that. And it's also Christian in [that] some of the origins of giving presents on Christmas were about helping the needy.
PAUL MILLER: In my family, we always had a crèche. It seemed, if we were going to be celebrating Christmas, that we should have a crèche.
Ms. MILLER: We want them to understand the meaning of the Christmas story, and that involves telling the story of Jesus and his birth. And the crèche is a very hands-on way of learning about that. I mean, our kids know that Jesus was a Jew; they understand those points of connection between the two religions.