Since Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving this year–or did Thanksgiving fall on Hanukkah rather!?–I wanted to share eight things I am thankful for so far this Hanukkah. Context: I just got back from the weekend with my ex and our sons at my ex’s mom’s house. All of us together. In one house. For three nights. Cozy wozy, indeed.
1. I am grateful that my ex and I communicate so well, even when it’s hard. We planned the gifts, the travel, the meals; everything together.
2. In my dreams I would do a “No-Gifts” Hanukkah, but in reality, the ex and I made modest choices that suited both of us not perfectly, but reasonably. We chose medium and small gifts our boys truly have been wanting and will hopefully enjoy for a long time.
3. I love celebrating Hanukkah with my ex’s mom who converted to Judaism from Mormonism about six years ago. She is such an inquisitive Jew, and she studies more Torah and Talmud than most Jews from any denomination that I know. She makes a mean latke and even buys vegan sour cream for me to smear on mine. And she doesn’t even complain about how every Jewish food is destined to make us all fat, and her kitchen stove top all greasy.
4. My mom and dad hosted the four of us for Thanksgiving at their place this year, and we also celebrated Hanukkah that night with them. My sons love the time they get with them. And it’s kind of a break for me and my ex since my mom loves nothing more than practically spoon-feeding both of my sons, and we barely lift a finger the whole night. Plus, no washing dishes, which my right hand is grateful for.
5. I am grateful for the Kveller community. We care very much about how we do things here at Kveller and we care a lot about fundraising (it’s not too late to donate! Click here please!). And we care about each other, too. I love knowing this group of women, and I love that we really try hard to make Kveller something special and interesting and inspirational for the Jews out there. And for the curious non-Jews too!
6. I am grateful I have a job and health coverage. I am grateful that I live in a country that needs a lot of work, but also guarantees my rights and the rights of all kinds of people in greater and greater numbers. Not to be overly dramatic, but there are places in this world a lot harder and more persecutory for women and for Jews in particular, and for people in general. This country isn’t done growing, but we are making good steps towards growing to be in a place where all rights are preserved and everyone is respected and protected. There should be enough money and resources to feed the homeless children of our country, and to help the unemployed find work, and to help those with mental illness get the support they need. If any country can do it, ours can.
7. I thank God for the State of Israel. I know there are so many problems there. I know peace seems impossible and there are settlement issues, and secular and religious issues, and I don’t ignore the problematic aspects of the birth of our modern state. I know. And I still thank God for Israel.
8. The last night of Hanukkah contains the most light of the entire holiday: eight candles and a shamash (leader candle). Matisyahu says: “Eight is the number of infinity, one more than what you know how to be.” He’s right. There is a magic to the eighth night and here’s what it makes me think about. I am thankful for the privilege of being who I am. Just being me. I’m Jewish, female, born to my maddening parents, the grandchild of poor immigrants, a divorced mother to my sweet gentle sons, an actress, a neuroscientist, the survivor of so many things. I hope that the light of Hanukkah on the last night brightens my soul and gives me more fuel to let me burn brighter this year, to be as courageous as a Maccabee, as devoted as a mother sending seven sons to war, and as thankful for the opportunity to let light shine into the darkest recesses of our lives.
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