I didn’t grow up Jewish. In fact, I didn’t grow up much of anything. We did Christmas without the religion. We hunted for Easter eggs, but didn’t go to Mass. And the rest of the year we didn’t mention religion.
And then I met M. And I converted. And all of a sudden I was a Jew. A Jew who celebrates Chanukah; a holiday I knew nothing about eight years ago.
And now we have children. And it’s their holiday too, but I have no family traditions to draw on. I really want Chanukah to be about more than just lighting a few candles and singing a song, which is what M grew up doing.
At the same time, I don’t want Chanukah to be all about the presents, because that would take away from the magic of Christmas. And honestly, I really don’t think my kids need December to be a month of presents.
So I’ve come up with an alternate plan, one that should make Chanukah special without detracting from Christmas. Chanukah will be all about books. (Especially fitting since Jews are the people of the book. Ha!) Every evening, after we light the candles and sing the blessings, both C and Little L will get to open a present; a book. Then we’ll cuddle on the couch and read to the light of the Menorah. All at the same time now: Awwww.
They get to open presents, we get some quality family time, and Chanukah doesn’t get shortchanged. Perfect. No?
How about you? Have you invented or reinvented family traditions?