Our Hanukkah. This Year.
“Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.”
Raising kids is tough, right?
I mean... no one ever really prepares you for it. We know about the physical aspects of giving birth, the economic “burden,” and the plans we begin to make for their futures...and ours. But there is so much more- many monumental decisions that must be made along the way, drastically effecting the hearts and minds of our children- decisions that I never even considered beforehand.
Maybe it was naïveté on my part- or maybe not. Either way, I find myself faced with a myriad of large and small hurdles, choices, and options during this experiment we call “parenting.”
One of these major decisions: religion.
I was raised in a Jewish family. My daughter’s father is Catholic - but not practicing. I personally have studied numerous religions and my belief system is varied. When I first found out I was pregnant, the last of my worries was the religious aspect of raising a child. I thought to myself: she will be loved- she will be protected- she will be safe...and the rest will fall into place. 🙏🏻
I still believe that.
I hope that one day, my daughter chooses her own religion. I plan on giving her all the freedom of thought and discovery that I have been given. I will teach her about who I am, where I came from, who my family was and what we believed. My heritage...a heritage I am exceptionally proud of and thankful for.
I hope, for her, that she has faith...In something. I hope that she knows, in her soul, that there is a framework much greater than that which our minds can fathom, that life is a miracle, and that every second is a gift. I hope that she believes in love- in hope- in goodness. I aim to teach her to believe in herself and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she is capable of anything. I hope that she dreams big- and strives to make those dreams come true. I hope that she knows that without the darkness, there cannot be light- but that her days are luminescent. I hope that she is giving and kind, respectful of all creatures, loving and strong. I hope that she is humble. I hope that there is humanity in all her actions and strength in her convictions.
I hope that she uses her beauty for good and her intellect for knowledge.
And then, maybe one day, she will feel a connection with a particular faith and will follow that with assured certitude.
This year, for the first time- now that my daughter is almost five, I committed to celebrating the full eight nights of Hanukkah. I taught her about the Maccabees, about the miracle of light. We danced along to Spotify’s “Chanukah Playlist” complete with Adam Sandler and Barenaked Ladies ballads. We lit the Menorah and we said the prayers. We hugged and ate chocolate Gelt (they had Euro symbols on them! 🤣). We put on our Hanukkah princess crowns (pictured above) and a matching magic “Hannukah scarf.” My daughter opened presents...far too many presents...one for each candle each night of Hanukkah.
I don’t know what Hanukkah meant to my little girl this year- but I did my best to instill the idea of traditions, of the beauty of family, of continuity, and of joy. We will do this every year.
And if anything, I hope that this experience bequeaths upon her the “spirit of reverence”: a deep respect for something greater than herself- whether it be religion, traditions, togetherness, the past, the future, where she came from, her heritage, where she’s going, or simply life itself.
Happy Holidays to all ✨