Hanukkah starts in less than a month, people.
Those of you who have followed my writing over the years know that I have struggled mightily with this holiday and how to make it meaningful and fun for everyone in the family. Three years ago, I wrote a post about not giving gifts, and then I did a 180 and over the next two years I wrote this piece and this one about showering my girls with plastic princesses, among other things.
I won’t lie. I love giving my daughters the gifts they want. I love watching the joy on their faces and the fun they have playing with their toys, and I love remembering how much I enjoyed getting new presents each year. Yet somehow the gift giving always feels a bit disconnected from the candles, the blessings, and even the dreidel spinning.
And now I’m doing the Jewish Mother Project, and I want to find out how to integrate these two aspects of our Hanukkah observance. I want to bring more meaning, generosity, and balance to our eight crazy nights. At the risk of sounding a bit hokey, I want the presents and the presence.
I recently came across a post by Glennon Melton about how she manages Christmas with her family. She uses this little tool as a structure for the holiday:
Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
Seeing as how there are eight nights of Hanukkah, I decided to expand on her poem a bit with this:
Something to see, something to spare, something to cook, something to share.
I envision something to see as attendance to a play, show, or museum. For something to spare, we’ll spend some time deciding how and where to give tzedakah, and for something to share, we’ll decide as a family what we want that to be. Whether it’s an item, craft project, or other experience, it will be something the whole family can enjoy together.
This is where I need your help, my dear readers. I’d love to hear what has worked for you. I don’t need anything Pinterest-worthy (sometimes my life feels like one giant Pinterest Fail), but I need something you’ve done and enjoyed. I’d love to have a Jewish twist to as many of my “somethings” as possible, so please share your recommendations for Jewish toys, books, recipes, activities, and experiences. Please share them ASAP so I can compile and share them in another post in time for the holiday!