I think I have mentioned before that Rob is a non-practicing Jew. He’s not overly fond of Christmas either but tolerates it because I love the season so much.
Let’s be clear. I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS. I mean, really, what’s not to love? Christmas music is always a mood brightener. Light displays are pretty. Decorations make your home more festive and happy. All the holiday baking – which may be a lot of work but also baked goods so I think that’s still a checkmark in the FOR column. Christmas movies – I mean, sure most of them are overly cheesy and completely unrealistic but that’s part of the charm. Pure escapism. Most years there are parties – which are fun to dress up for – and seeing people you love. And generally I find most people to be more polite and kind during the holiday season.
I said generally.
And gifts. I love gifting even more than getting (but I do love getting) presents. But I really do enjoy the hunt for the perfect gift. Sometimes I immediately know what I want to get someone and other times it takes a bit to figure out but I always put a lot of thought into my gifts.
This year has been trickier for obvious reasons. I haven’t felt like I can go and just leisurely shop, waiting for inspiration to strike. And online shopping is convenient but it is definitely tricky if you don’t know EXACTLY what you are looking for. And sure, I want to support small businesses right now more than ever but that’s hard to do when I don’t even leave my house (I have done a lot of etsy shopping too though). I’ve done ok this year but I don’t feel like I’ve knocked it out of the park on any of my gifts I am giving this year.
Anyway, I convinced Rob to celebrate Hanukkah this year. Because why not? It’s part of his heritage. And I’m not trying to be disrespectful in anyway, but if non-Christians can celebrate Christmas (I have many agnostic and even atheist friends that celebrate Christmas, myself included) then why can’t anyone celebrate Hanukkah?
According to Rob it’s actually a fairly minor Jewish holiday that essentially got pumped up to compete with Christmas anyway. I say there is plenty of room for both.
The first night of Hanukkah was last night. Rob bought a book to tell the story of Hanukkah and read it to me last night. Yes it’s a kid’s book but who cares? I genuinely wanted to learn more about it and the book was perfect. I knew there was a miracle of oil that was supposed to last for 1 day that lasted for 8 but that’s pretty much where my Hanukkah knowledge ended. Oh – and something about Maccabees though I never knew who they were (honestly I wasn’t even sure if they were the good guys or the bad guys until last night).
And just in case you didn’t know – like me – here’s a brief synopsis in my own words…
Once upon a time the Greeks invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. In the temple was a ner tamid which was a light that always burned. So the Jews were justifiably angry and fought back – eventually fleeing to the nearby mountains. That wasn’t good enough for the Greeks so they chased after them. Judah was the leader of the fleeing Jews and he was called the Maccabee which means “the hammer”. And his followers became known as the Maccabees (so they were the good guys). And even though the Maccabees were mostly farmers and shepherds and were outnumbered (and the Greeks had armored elephants which is pretty badass. I know they are the bad guys here but that’s just cool) they eventually won the war.
The Maccabees returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt their temple but when they went to light the ner tamid there was just enough oil for one day…and apparently it would take 8 days to prepare more oil. (The story didn’t explain why it takes 8 days to prepare oil or if it takes longer and that’s just how much time was left.) Somehow that tiny bit of oil lasted 8 days when they finally had more oil.
Judah (aka the Maccabee) declared that every year on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev an 8 day holiday would begin. They called the holiday Hanukkah meaning dedication because it celebrates the day the Temple was rededicated. So basically Hanukkah celebrates one of the first fights for religious freedom.
And again, I mean no disrespect, but that sort of feels like something worth celebrating by everyone.
And sure 8 more nights of presents is a selling point. Rob was intimidated by that at first so I looked up Hanukkah night themes. According to Rob’s mom that is something new and completely made up but it gave us a starting point. I also suggested we try to keep it super budget friendly as it was more of a something fun to do than a quest for real gifts. The original budget was supposed to be $100 total but someone that isn’t me said he blew through that pretty quickly. I’m doing pretty well but I am stuck on Night 4 and will likely blow the budget on that one.
The nights we are doing are:
Night 1 – Traditional
Night 2 – Puzzles and Games
Night 3 – Books
Night 4 – Gift for Family
Night 5 – Pajamas or Clothing
Night 6 – Charity
Night 7 – Favorite Items
Night 8 – Handmade Gifts
I gave Rob a beautiful stone box with an intricate Menorah carved in it. It’s allegedly vintage but who knows. He gave me a lovely ornament with a sparkly Star of David on it which I thought was perfect. I’ve already put it at the top of the tree.
He also said the prayer (in Hebrew and English) when lighting the Menorah. It was really lovely to be a part of that.
I probably won’t post about every night of Hanukkah but I thought it would be fun to share at least night one with you.