|A nontraditional, but very cool menorah|
Hanukkah can be a rather nuanced holiday. Some feel the focus should be on the military victory, others on what that victory achieved (religious freedom), others "the miracle of the light," and still others feel it should just be an expression of Jewish uniqueness.
Every night of Hanukkah my son and I light the candles and recite the blessing. That's how we honor the Jewish uniqueness part (we collect menorahs so we light a different one every night). We talk a bit about the story of the Maccabees, that's our nod to those who think we need to focus on the military victory. But mostly I want to celebrate our freedom and while some people celebrate these things with alcohol or what-have-you, my son and I celebrate by doing the things free people can do, spending time with friends, engaging in favorite activities, exchanging gifts, eating yummy foods and doing all these things together as a family.
So what does all that really mean in practical terms?
Well this is how we spent this Hanukkah:
- Night One: It was just my son and me, bringing in the holiday together at home with candles and latkes
- Night Two: We brought over a traditional Hanukkah meal to our friend's home and our two families celebrated the holiday together
- Night Three: Dinner out with friends
- Night Four: My boyfriend had us over for dinner and after exchanging gifts we watched Batman, Dark Night Rises for the first time
- Night Five: We went to the Griffith Observatory and saw their new Planetarium show, Time's Up, explaining the whole Mayan thing and what will really happen to the earth and stars on the 21st
- Night Six: My mom came into town to help us celebrate. She said she couldn't imagine not seeing us during Hanukkah
- Night Seven: We all go to see Cirque du Soleil, Iris at the Dolby theater
- Day Seven: We went to see the Cleopatra exhibit at the California Science Center!
- Night Eight: Dinner with family/friends
- Day Eight: Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum with our friends and neighbors, then a holiday party in Venice Beach where we watched the annual neighborhood rowboat parade.
It's a lot and every year I tell everyone in my life that this is my son's week. Don't ask to see me without him during those eight days and nights because unless it's during school hours it's not going to happen. And every year he looks forward to it, making me promise repeatedly that I won't work on my books during the Hanukkah nights (I do sometimes, but not until after he's asleep). And that time together, going on these adventures, it's bonding and it's wonderful. He's thirteen now and the joy of the holiday hasn't diminished with the dawning of adolescence. It's not exactly a traditional way to celebrate the holiday but it is unique and it is important and fulfilling.
We truly had a fantasitc Hanukkah.
May your holiday be equally spectacular.
Oh, and because I didn't know what to get you, I settled on sharing photos of the the Atherton Twins who perform in Cirque Du Soleil's Iris.
If that doesn't brighten your holiday I can't help you.