How To Celebrate Chanukah

Chocolate coins for Chanukah.

Chocolate coins for Chanukah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year people ask me what day Chanukah begins and every year I tell them that it begins on the same day, The 25th of Kislev. That is the sort of joke that has a more limited audience. It is not understood by many MOTs but I am a father and entitled to tell jokes both good and bad.

This post isn’t going to provide you with chapter and verse on the proper way to celebrate Chanukah. I am not here to tell you the story about who, what, when, where, how and why. Won’t talk to you about what is required to make a Kosher menorah or how many blessings you say each night.

My focus lies elsewhere. My focus is on two children who call me dad, daddy, father, abba and sometimes “hey you.” My focus is on trying to figure out how to make sure that they don’t get caught up in the rampant consumerism that surrounds this time of year.

Gratitude and a heavy dose of appreciation is what I am thinking about- both mine and theirs.

You see this year has been challenging from start to finish. There have been a million different things that have happened and many of them have been more than your ordinary bump in the road – but the kids think of them as hiccups. At least I think that is how they view them.

I am grateful for that. I am thrilled that they don’t have a real clue as to what has been going on or some of the sleepless nights that I have experienced.  When they hurt themselves and or are hungry they tend to look for mom but I am who they seek to take care of the monsters in the closet and the mysterious noises at night.

This is what I signed up for. This is why my parents and grandparents told me to remember that it is a marathon and not a sprint because shit happens.

I am on the fence about whether things happen for a reason but I have opened myself up to the possibilities and opportunities that the universe has to share and it has made a difference. I am just more relaxed about life and some of the challenges.

That doesn’t mean that I am not trying to steer the boat- I am the captain of my ship and not willing to let the sea throw me into the rocks. But that doesn’t mean that I am not following my own North star. That doesn’t mean that I am not doing my best to sing the song that I hear my my heart singing.

That is part of how I plan on celebrating Chanukah- I am going to sing along with the song of my heart and see what happens.

It might sound hokey to you, but I have gone to look for America.

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10 Comments

  1. Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. December 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I forgot to add that it’s critical that we, as parents, keep our gifts in concert with the holiday. Small ones, ones that resonate with OUR traditions.

  2. Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. December 6, 2011 at 10:55 am

    It is a terrible issue, here. Too many folks think by adding 1 thing in, we all should feel comfortable with their practices. As you know (and said), this is a very minor holiday.
    I would appreciate it more if notice were taken (like- no voting scheduled, no exams for kids) on Passover, Shvuot, Sukot, and Yamim Noraim. Those are the only critical dates.

  3. Kaarina Dillabough December 6, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Such a great post Jack:) I know you said you’d start the Santa-rants, but I don’t see any of it here.

    This is one of my favorite times of year. I slow down. I relish every moment of unwrapping the ornaments and Santas (yes, Santas) that adorn the house. I take time to appreciate each one, including the vintage postcards that go on the tree. I read the message on each one and admire the beautiful handwriting…a very lost art…both in the writing and the penmanship.

    It’s about family, not things, but these “things” create what our family loves…a warm, loving environment that changes with the seasons to celebrate what those changes mean to us as a family.

    Journey on, my friend:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • Jack December 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Hi Kaarina,

      I have a boatload of posts about it- been getting yelled at for a week now about being intolerant and mean. Good times.

      Anyhoo, I understand and appreciate why it would be important for you. From a ‘religious’ perspective the holidays really are very different.

      If I were Christian I would go nuts this time of year but that is because to me it looks like the holiday has been compromised.

      My goal is to keep my children grounded, centered and focused on what is important.

      I suspect it probably really isn’t any different than your goals.

      Part of that requires battling the rampant consumerism.

  4. Dina December 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I know what you mean about the consumerism of the season, it worries me too. Too many people are too eager to spoil my daughter. You know what I really hate? That kids can register at toy stores.

  5. Bill Dorman December 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Doesn’t it have something to do with the Maccabees kickin’ some Greek ass and when the Jews returned to the temple they only had enough pure oil to keep 8 candles burning until they could make and produce more clean/pure oil? See how that fits in w/ Christmas………hey, it is a holiday and it is momentous, celebrate.

    I might not have it totally down but this seems to be how I recall the story. Correct me if I’m too far off.

    Happy holidays to ya.

    • Jack December 5, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      Hey Bill,

      That is a pretty good explanation. But I should mention that Chanukah is of minor importance. It is not considered to be a very important holiday at all.

      It just gets more attention because of when it falls.

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