Here it is, coming around the bend. That magical—yet somewhat frustrating—time of year we affectionately call Christma-kkah. It can be tough. The American holiday season has evolved—for better or worse—into a highly-commercialized, sugary-sweet present-fest. Kids run around barely able to contain their excitement. Public schools are rehearsing their holiday talent shows. And while they strive to call them “Holiday Celebrations” and not “Christmas Extravaganzas” there is no real way to separate Christmas from church and state. It melts into our collective subconscious as soon as the “After Thanksgiving Sales” commence.
However, we are Jewish, we are proud and we want our families to celebrate our heritage. Sure Christmas is an important “birthday” to many… but Hanukkah… well we won a war to inspire this holiday! Take that Santa.
All kidding aside though, kids are kids and presents are presents. It can be very hard to instill a sense of pride in our heritage when the colors of green and red are drowning out all our lovely hues of blue and silver. So what is a parent to do? Well, we can take this opportunity to tell our children the story of our people. We can dazzle them with tales of a lamp that burns for eight days, a war that was won against incredible odds and our ancestors that refused to be stifled. We can teach them about the strength and character that is formed by fighting for our beliefs.
Most importantly, we can take this time to illustrate the nuances of diversity. Being different isn’t “bad” or “less than” anything. It is just different… and that is a good thing. Hanukkah can be a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about tolerance and acceptance. It is an opportunity to teach them to be proud of who they are and where they come from. And if all else fails… compliment these teaching opportunities with “Eight Days and Seven Nights” of presents. It’s a sneaky trick, but it works.