Hanukkah started Saturday night. Here’s what I’ve learned this week.
1. Hanukkah doesn’t have to be a huge deal. It can be about simple things: being together, small gifts, spinning a dreidel.
2. It’s hard being a working mama and missing out on daytime Hanukkah parties and fairs and such. Grumpy about that for sure.
3. Putting kids first is absolutely critical at any stage of a marital relationship. Kids matter so much more than our “issues” do. It is wonderful to be able to give them a safe and joyous holiday despite what we are handling.
4. There’s not much sweeter than watching small hands hold a shamash.
5. There’s also not much sweeter than hearing my 4- and 7-year-olds sing “Hanukkah oh Hanukkah” in Yiddish. Best line to hear a small person kvetch out: “Lomir alle zingen, lomir alle shpringen, un lomir alle tantsn in kohn.,” which means, “Let’s all sing, And let’s all jump, And let’s all dance together.”
6. Matisyahu’s “Miracle” is still one of my favorite Hanukkah videos/songs. The lyrics are so beautiful and they consistently bring to mind the deeper meaning of Hanukkah: “Eight is the number of infinity, one more than what you know how to be. And this is the light of festivity, when your broken heart yearns to be free.” Sing it, brother. (For the Yeshiva University Maccabeats version which my sons and I appeared in last year, click HERE!)
7. My homemade vegan sufganiyot and the oniony shredded hashbrown-like latkes we rock out every year never cease to make me happy and satisfied. If ever there was a doubt about my heritage, this holiday with all of its fried starchy goodness confirms that I am 100% bonafide Eastern European Ashkenazi Jewess. And proud of it.
8. Next Hanukkah, my life may look very different. All of ours will. I am truly living one day at a time this year. Not catastrophizing, not obsessing (too much), not fixating on all of the what-ifs. Just being grateful to God for bringing me to this Festival of Lights with a sense of wonder, a sense of awe, and a deep and infinite faith in something miraculous.
A freiliche (happy) Hanukkah! And may these lights burn bright enough to light up all of the dark places in all of us.
For more on how Mayim is celebrating the holiday, read her plea to help others this holiday season, the work she’s doing with The Maccabeats and The Gift of Life, and her favorite Hanukkah music from StandFour.