Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
Let me make the quick case for putting a little more goofy, glitzy fun into the festival of lights.
First off, I know, I know – it’s not the “Jewish Christmas,” we don’t want to get too commercial with the whole shebang, our heritage is about the stories and the values and the big ideas.
But here’s an important big idea: when a holiday can be fun, it should be fun. Let’s not get so caught up in avoiding commercialism that we wind up reducing joy.
Especially because I’m currently seeing the winter holidays through the eyes of my two-and-a-half-year-old, let me tell you… there are seasonal delights all around us, and I want to corner more than a little of that celebratory spirit.
She already knows about Santa and Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph, not because they’re in our house but because we go shopping and listen to the radio and, you know, exist in America. She knows how fun her friends think these things are. She sees their beautiful Christmas trees in their homes, and thinks they’re amazing (guess what? They totally are).
I want her to be dazzled by the dreidel side of things, too. I want her to be able to amaze her friends with our holiday fun.
So this year, we threw a big Hanukkah party, with multiple kinds of latkes and lots of decorations, and I finally sprang for the T-Rex Menorah (AKA: Menorahsaurus!) I’ve been eyeing since before I even had a kid.
And you know what?
We’ve been having a blast.
Our friends loved the big ol’ Hanukkah party experience.
We did the party on night one – and perhaps not coincidentally, this has become the first year in a while that we’ve been hurrying home to light the lights every single night. The kiddo asks if we can “do Hanukkah” as soon as it gets dark out. Today, she’s sporting a dreidel dress at school.
We light the menorahsaurus, open presents, laugh, share the best thing that happened to us today, and are consciously amping up the joy all week long.
It’s pretty awesome.
So if it means getting the dino Chanukiah, cooking up some fancy new latkes (my gruyere and leek creation was a huge hit, y’all), adding some twinkling lights outside to welcome folks to the flickering flames within… to me, it’s worth the extra effort and the risk of “getting a little too commercial” to have my kiddo tell everyone she sees this week, “IT’S HANUKKAH AND I LOVE IT!”