I admit it. Hanukkah isn’t the most glamorous of holidays. Especially when compared to that other holiday we celebrate in our house — you know, the one with the shiny tree and some guy named Santa. Apparently, oil burning in a temple thousands of years ago isn’t as exciting as a man with a giant sleigh and flying reindeer.
That said, I’m determined that this year is going to be different. This year I’m going to make Hanukkah a holiday they’ll remember, even when we’re baking cookies for Santa and hanging stockings with care. Here are eight ways I’m going to rock Hanukkah this year.
1. Serve up a whole lotta latkes. Granted, I’ve never made latkes before (thank you, Granny!), but if oil can burn for eight days in ancient Jerusalem, it can certainly burn for an hour or so in my kitchen. I’ve got my grandfather’s recipe, a sack of potatoes, and a dream in my heart. Bring on the starch!
2. Make it a family affair. Nothing makes a holiday special like gathering with family to eat, drink, and get into a shouting match over who forgot the applesauce five years ago. This Hanukkah I’m looking forward to family bonding (and drama) with the ones I love.
3. Finally learn what the letters on the dreidel mean. Each year I struggle to remember the meaning of those Hebrew letters (even after landing on shin ten times and losing all my money). However, if I ever want to realize my dream of becoming a dreidel hustler — or at least teach my kids how to play the game — it’s time to commit.
4. Indulge in Jewish gelt. Turns out you can buy love … if you’re using chocolate money.
5. Bring on Pandora. I used to think my only song options were “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” and “The Dreidel Song.” However, I recently discovered Pandora’s Hanukkah station, and suddenly it’s hip hop Hanukkah around here. I, for one, am looking forward to a rousing post-dreidel reenactment of Step Up 3D.
6. Tell ’em a tale. Oppressive emperors. Sword-wielding high priests. Armored war elephants. The story of Hanukkah is nothing if not dramatic. Yeah, Santa is cool. But in a fight between Santa and Judah Maccabee, you know who my Hanukkah gelt would be on.
7. Say a little prayer. Woven throughout my holiday memories is the Hanukkah blessing, sung reverently over burning candles, connecting my family to generations before us. Now it’s time to pass on that tradition. While the words may be foreign, I know my kids will sense their connection to something bigger as well.
8. Spend time together. To me, the best part of Hanukkah isn’t the presents or even the food. Rather, it’s that, for eight days, my family sets aside time to spend together — whether it’s just a few minutes lighting candles, or an evening visiting loved ones. This year, I plan to take advantage of the holiday to disconnect from life’s many distractions, and reconnect with the people I love. While eating latkes, of course.
Yes, it may be ambitious of me to think that, amid the sparkling lights of Christmas, I can fry up some Hanukkah love this season. Then again, as the oil burning in the ancient Temple proves, greater miracles have happened.
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