A little (ok maybe a lot) background for this story. My father is Jewish, he is not religiously observant, and growing up his family didn't practice anything. My mom is Italian/Polish Catholic and while she grew up attending church, in my lifetime she has only attended church for weddings, funerals, and (when I was little) an occassional Christmas Eve service. Because my father had little family to speak of, and my mom had a lot, we grew up spending holidays with my mom's family. So, while as a child I rarely entered a church, I did grow up celebrating Christmas, and looking forward to the Easter bunny. My husband, though his family is decidedly Christian, was also raised with a similar lack of religion. And so, our daughter, like her parents, will grow up celebrating Christmas and Easter, but without any real religious beliefs to go along with them.
Anyhoo - It was with some surprise that I heard my daughter ask her friend during lunch at our house on Saturday "Jane are you Jewish?" The look on her friend's face suggested she may have never heard the word before. I asked my daughter why she'd asked that and her response was that her friend "looked like it." After taking a deep breath, I explained that you can't tell someone's religion based on the way they look (I was certainly not going to get into the Jewish religion/race discussion with a 6 year old). The conversation fizzled with the friend's confusion and a little distraction on my part. Skip ahead a day and a half. I was telling the story to my husband at dinner last night. We asked our daughter why she'd asked her friend this and she just shrugged. So, I asked if she knew who was Jewish and then told her that her Grandpa F. is and so that makes me and her part Jewish. Her response was to look me in the eye and, full of indignation, ask me "then why don't we celebrate Chanukah?"