I truly love Chanukah. It brings back so many childhood memories of times with my parents, grandmother, and siblings.
When we were little, my parents kept their top drawer full of loose change. My father used to dump all the change from his pockets into small shoe and jewelry box tops. Eventually it added up! We used to take the biggest box, full of stray pennies and dump the entire thing on the dining room table. As the candles were glowing on the windowsill, we would start to play dreidel.
The dreidel, or top, would spin round and round. I used to try to learn how to spin it upside down and was thrilled when I mastered that skill! We would play for hours.
We always had a family Chanukah party with gifts for everyone. I cannot even tell you how many pairs of gloves and pajamas I got through the years. In the later years, when my grandmother was older and could only shop locally, I got whatever fragrance or new item was available at the drug store across the street from her apartment building. Some gifts were truly silly, but I appreciated the effort nonetheless.
Chanukah in school meant donuts and latkes, special programs, trips and concerts. We used to visit nursing homes and sing Chanukah songs for the residents in front of the big electric menorah that sat beside the beautifully adorned Christmas tree. I was excited that Arielle went on a similar trip with her second grade class to visit the local nursing home and sing Chanukah tunes. The tradition continues.
Chanukah is a time to be with family, to sing and dance before the candles and celebrate the ancient victory of the Jews over the Greek army, led by King Antiochus. Antiochus banned all acts of Judaism and wanted to stop Jews from learning Torah and praying to G-d. Our response has been to bless G-d for bringing us to this moment, performing miracles then and now, and allowing us to light the menorah.
I am happy to continue the tradition and create great memories for my children. The kids get to stay up late to light the candles when Mommy and Daddy get home from work. Each has his/her own menorah. They love choosing the pattern for the colorful candles to display each night, something I distinctly remember doing as well. They get Chanukah gelt, or chocolate coins, to eat. After we light candles, we sing, dance, and go a little crazy. We have gifts, parties, and time with family. Latkes and donuts. The kids practice spinning the dreidel and we bring out the special dreidel salt shakers (thanks, Mom).
We celebrate our Judaism. We celebrate our active involvement in our ancient tradition.
I truly love Chanukah. So many childhood memories and traditions are created every day.