Happy Hanukkah

This morning I glanced at my calendar to see Hanukkah Begins. I immediately started dancing the hora in my head and skipped over to dig out our dreidel. The kids picked up on my giddiness and excitedly inquired about what was going on.

"It's Hanukkah," I explained. "Time to celebrate!"

"But Mom," they said, looking confused. "We aren't Jewish." (Shoot, maybe I need to pay more attention at church! Seriously though, I had to smile because, yay, my kids knew it was a Jewish holiday!)

"Well, that is true. But it doesn't mean we can't join in the festivities. After all, it wasn't our birthday last week when we celebrated with your cousin and we celebrate Christmas which isn't our birthday either. If we are all children of God, then why not rejoice with our brothers and sisters and share in their celebrations of God and his triumphs?" (Plus, Solomon gets to wear his yarmulkas and who doesn't love that? Except for possibly Solomon....)

I bounced around singing the song I learned in elementary school 30 years ago, when schools didn't get sued for including the word God in stuff:

'Tis the week of Hanukkah good tidings we're bringing,
This holiday we celebrate with dancing and singing,
Gather round together the hora we'll do,
Then we'll sing the song that our forefathers knew.
Hush now, and come now, the candles we'll light one by one,
Then we'll tell stories of God and his glory and how precious freedom was won.

(Or something like that.) The kids watched with something like glee on their faces.

My thoughts drifted upward as we went about preparing for church. How would our world look if we all regularly rejoiced with one another? If we were to recognize our sameness and unity in creation rather than focusing so much on our differences and uniqueness?

When we lived in CA, I excitedly participated in Diwali, the Festival of Lights, with my Indian friends. I learned about Eid from my Pakistani students; I marched in the head of the dragon for a Chinese New Year parade in my classroom. We lifted up and exalted God through the very act of celebrating with one another, of celebrating each other.

As we continue in this time of Advent, preparing for Christmas to come into our hearts once more, why not rejoice in the whole big shebang? Joy is worth sharing with all God's children, whatever our beliefs may be. And really, who doesn't like a good reason to party? (My Red Solo Cups are always at the ready....how 'bout you?)

P.S. Please don't mention to my kids that the Hanukah tradition also include eight nights of gift giving....eight nights, five kids....it might just break the bank!

P.P.S. Here's a fun Hanukkah song to lighten your day. Or if you prefer the original SNL version, click here.

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