Home December 2012 Chanukah Dilemma

Chanukah Dilemma

Our family loves when Chanukah is around the same time as the Christmas holidays, when the kids are out of school, activities are on hiatus, work slows down and all of society is in “celebration mode.”  Unfortunately, this year, Chanukah is on the early side – starting December 8 and ending before most kids even start their winter breaks.  The problem is that there really isn’t ample time for the celebration of Chanukah, and we really feel like we miss out on the enjoyment of the holiday.
As anyone who has been reading my column knows, we do Chanukah really big in the Boarnet household.  Adorned with sparkly blue, white and silver decorations, blue and white twinkling lights and as many “Happy Chanukah” signs and motifs as we can find, our house is a beacon in the neighborhood – “the Chanukah house.”  Our week is filled with parties and get-togethers and the many Jewish traditions that we follow and have created – playing dreidel, opening gifts, reading Chanukah stories, eating latkes, sharing a treat each night from our “eight days of treats” and, of course, lighting the menorah and singing Chanukah songs.  While Chanukah is a relatively minor holiday in the whole scheme of things, it is a way for us to be together as a family, to spend time together in celebration and to engage in traditions that have become near and dear to us over the years.  It’s about having so many traditions centered around the holiday that bring us together as a family.
When we have to rush through our stories and treats because the kids have homework to do and tests to study for, I feel deprived.  When we have to wait until 10 p.m. to light the menorah because that is when everyone is finally home, I feel deprived.  When we have to rush through the nightly gifts because everyone needs to go to sleep, I feel deprived.  When we only have two or three available nights to have friends and family over to celebrate because it is the middle of a school and work week, I feel deprived.  And when we are completely done with our holiday and everyone in the secular world is celebrating, I feel deprived.
Since there is nothing we can do about the way the calendar falls, we need to make the best of it and come up with different ways to enjoy our traditions and celebrations.  If we know that one of the nights is going to be exceptionally busy, perhaps we can wake up a half an hour earlier and have a special Chanukah breakfast (with latkes, of course) and light the menorah in the morning.  Another idea would be to send a little surprise in the kids’ lunches, such as a mini dreidel and a bag of chocolate gelt.
We can make the most of the weekend time, perhaps plan a couple of celebrations with friends on the weekend preceding the first night as a “kick off” to Chanukah or to do Chanukah crafts to decorate our home.  There is also no law that says we can’t celebrate after the fact.  Perhaps consider gifts such as movie tickets, tickets to a play or musical or plans for a trip, so that you may be giving them during Chanukah but you can enjoy them together at a later time.
Usually when Chanukah is early one year, it is late the next, so I was surprised when I checked the calendar and discovered that Chanukah 2013 actually starts on Thanksgiving Day!  My first thought was that it’s not even going to allow us to fully appreciate and celebrate Thanksgiving the way we like before turning our attention to Chanukah.  But then I realized that it will be an opportunity to try some new traditions that combine the two holidays and might be the perfect time to have a big family get-together for a big Thanksgiving Chanukah celebration!

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