While Brooke Burke remembers celebrating a “mishmash” of holidays as a child, her fiance of four years, actor David Charvet, was raised in a Jewish household in Lyon, France, before moving to the U.S. But there was one concession: “When I was little, my mother and I would do a tree together,” he says. “My mother explained to my stepfather that it wasn’t about beliefs. It was about how Christmas is a great holiday for kids.”
Now Burke, 39, and Charvet, 38, are instilling the same philosophy in their own blended brood-daughter Rain, 3, son Shaya, 2, and Burke’s daughters Sierra, 8, and Neriah, 10, from a previous marriage. Though the kids are being raised primarily Jewish (Burke embraced the religion when her first child, Neriah, was born in 2000), the whole clan delights in trimming the tree for Christmas as well as lighting the menorah for the Jewish holiday. “Hanukkah’s more intimate,” says the Dancing with the Stars host. “We light the candles, say the prayers.” Christmas includes the extended family-Burke’s and Charvet’s parents and close friends. “We try to fit everybody in,” says Charvet, who adds that it doesn’t matter if the celebration is big or small. “Both holidays,” he says, “are about being able to spend time together.”
How We Blend the Holidays
PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS FOR EACH HOLIDAY
Burke’s brood has grown up knowing the food staples for each celebration. While Sierra looks forward to pie after Christmas dinner, “I love latkes!” says Neriah.
HONOR THE OCCASIONS SEPARATELY
Put the Christmas music on pause and focus only on Hanukkah during the eight-day event. Says Burke: “It’s important the kids understand there are different traditions for different reasons.”
GIVE GIFTS-THEN GIVE BACK
The tots usually unwrap eight small presents for Hanukkah and get a bigger bounty from Santa. Since they’re twice as fortunate, “for every gift my kids receive, they give away a gently used toy,” says Burke.