Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, Hannukkah, Hanukah, Hannukah and Hanuka. We celebrated all of them. I love Chanukah even though it is a minor festival and not "the Jewish Christmas." I love it because it lights up the darkness of winter. It's dark at 4pm, but here we are lighting a candle and cursing nothing. I also love it because it mandates the consumption of biblical quantities of fried potatoes, a reason I feel God in his wisdom will see fit to accept as valid, especially from a Scotswoman. I also love Chanukah because (at least in our house) it has not turned into a materialistic, "well, we get 8 days of presents and you only get one!" event that competes with Christmas. The gifts are eight, but also minor: $10 ice skates, $8 board game, $4 card game. And of course, our third night wherein Bambina's gift is that she gives a gift to someone else. This year we're donating to the Families With Children From China orphanage fund, to help some special needs kids get surgery in China.
When I talk about Chanukah with Bambina we don't talk too much about gifts. Instead I talk a lot (too much?) about the importance of lighting up the darkness, as a holiday, as a family, as a person. Maybe she's too young for the symbolism of light in the darkness, but I hope she's not too young to internalize how we celebrate the holiday, by being happy together, by lighting candles, by giving to others, and by making the gifts the least important part of the night. I'm not sure how to characterize it, other than to perhaps call it "keeping the 'ccchhh' in Chanukah." :)