Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah, our family continues to find ways to share and blend our rituals. Some traditions are distinct, and we honor them separately: the candles that shine late into the evenings on our menorah; the tree of many colors whose fragrance fills the living room.

Where traditions overlap, we can blend meanings in a decoration: Bright strings of white lights in our windows extend the lights from both our tree and menorah. These are things we have learned, slowly and through time.

In earlier holiday seasons, I think my husband was concerned that the dazzling Christmas lights might eclipse the seemingly simpler Hanukkah lights. As a child, I celebrated both holidays and never saw them as competing.

Walking through any store, it is easy to see why someone might feel overwhelmed by the Christmas theme. If I formed my first impressions of Christmas at the mall, I might be a bit guarded, too. If I focused on all the things only as signs of religious preference and saw them displayed in schools and town halls, I might begin to feel like a stranger or outsider in my own land.