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Making new traditions… from well… nothing

standard December 7, 2007 6 responses

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?

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6 responses

  • I like it! Of course, I am the “aunt who gives books” in my family, so it works for me. I especially like the idea of curling up together to read. Good mama!

  • YES! Stockpile memories, not clutter!! Great idea…If I were Jewish and celebrating Chanukah I would do the same!

  • My girls got a book as the “big” present during the eight nights. The other presents were more “functional” – hair ties, bookmarks, markers, etc.
    Now, the girls are 22 & 19, presents stopped years ago (although we’ve been known to get them Starbucks cards)but the tradition of getting together to kindle the menorah – if only for one night – is important to both of them.

  • that sounds so wonderful. your kids will remember it forever and carry the tradition on with their children

  • Beautiful.
    I am a big believer (ha, no pun intended) in books.
    I give books to all of my friend’s kids and my own.
    books are timeless, they are precious and they are unique.
    Forget plastic, rubber and silicone… there’s nothing more lasting than books.
    This was fantastic.
    found you on cre8buzz.

  • Meredith (Daily Kvetch)

    I like the book holiday! I might try that next year. We have been lighting the menorah but blow it out before LM can throw balls at it (like we saw him try to do once) and making latkes and having him “light” his felt menorah (candles are felt too) and playing dreidle but nothing really else- no presents even. I think your idea is more meaningful.

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