Chanukah 2005
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Chanukah 5765 started on Dec. 25th at sundown. We lit the 8th candle on Jan. 1, 2006 at sundown. This year, we decided to try to find a way to make Chanukah more meaningful. It is frustrating for us that Chanukah has been so commercialized. It is really a very minor Jewish holiday, but because it falls at Christmas-time, it has become the booby prize to make the Jews feel included in the season. Craig was always asked to talk about Chanukah at school to add some multi-culturalism to the classroom. He resented not being invited to talk about Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. For our first attempt to create a Jewish home that was set apart from the surrounding Christian society, we decided to not exchange gifts at all on Chanukah. That was two years ago. That Chanukah was no fun, so we quickly abandoned the plan.

This year, we decided not to fight commercialism entirely, but to sneak in some of the real meaning of the holiday. Consequently, we exchanged gifts on the 1st and 8th days. On the other six nights, we exchanged gifts according to themes: family night (gifts had to be something that would result in a family activity), homemade gift night, coupon night (exchanging coupons promising to do something we'd normally not be willing to), something to eat (foods normally too unnutritious or expensive to include in the weekly shopping), tzedakah night (donations were made to a charity of each person's choosing), and something useful night. This was a real success. We may need to tweak the themes and the execution a bit as our family grows, but in general the idea was more fun and meant more than going out and shopping for eight presents.

First night of Chanukah

Eighth night of Chanukah

Isaac isn't sure what to make of all his gifts. Mommy went a little overboard.