Thursday, December 14, 2017
This time of year, your family may be trying to balance your identity with outside influences. It can feel overwhelming to be in the minority, or you may feel a need to make Chanukah compete with Christmas. All of this adds up to a lot of stress for a holiday season that should feel joyous. Some tips:
1) Don’t Try to Compete.
Chanukah isn’t Christmas, and it doesn’t equate. (The closest equivalent for a “gift giving holiday that shapes our very identity” would be Passover.) Instead, you can make Chanukah special in its own way by infusing it with values and by taking the time to enjoy it.
2) If You Do Want to Go All Out—Do It Because It Brings You Joy.
If decking your home in blue and silver makes you happy, then decorate to your heart’s content. But if it doesn’t…don’t.
3) Make Chanukah Special In Another Way.
Borrow this idea from PJ author Laurel Snyder: “I asked myself a question—why does this holiday matter?…I tried to remember what had mattered to me about Hanukkah, as a kid…So last year, we did something radical at our house. We opted out of the December Dilemma…and the result was mindblowing. For eight nights, we prioritized only each other, and it was moving to see how deeply that resonated with my kids—to see that they totally got it.” Read more.
4) Make Chanukah More Meaningful by Infusing It with Values.
You can use Federation’s 8 Chanukah Values to add more to each Chanukah night—to extend the time together while you have a “fireside chat” about Light, Courage, Israel, Community, Miracles, Education, Conservation and Rededication. There are items to learn * ask * do * read for every night at Jconnect.org/chanukahvalues.
5) Create Chanukah Theme Nights.
Create excitement in a different way, manage expectations and make your gift-giving easier by designating a theme and one gift for each night. Some examples include Book Night, Tzedakah Night (see below), Movie Night, Game Night, Outing Night (going out to do something together like ice skating or Zoo Lights). Gifts that come from other family members could be given one per night, too.
6) Use Chanukah As a Time to Give Back.
Pick one night of Hanukkah to be a “Tzedakah Night.” Instead of giving gifts to each other, purchase a gift for a child in need, volunteer your time or collect/purchase items needed by shelters. The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) calls this idea Ner Shel Tzedakah (“Candle of Righteousness”). Learn more.
PJ Library Stories Featuring Tzedakah or Being in the Minority
Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles by David Adler, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Gracie’s Night by Lynn Taylor Gordon, illustrated by Laura Brown
In the Month of Kislev by Nina Jaffe, illustrated by Louise August
The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
Chanukah Lights Everywhere by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Melissa Iwai
The Only One Club by Jane Naliboff, illustrated by Jeff Hopkins