December 11th marks the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of
lights, the Feast of Dedication. It also marks the beginning of my very
favorite holiday tradition.
My husband, David, and I grew up with different traditions.
And while neither of us came from particularly devout families, the
holiday season is marked by the pull of the traditions we experienced
as children. Over the years, David has had the opportunity to endure or
enjoy any Christmas tradition that felt important to me (and there are
a lot of them!). I wanted us to also create something special that was
sourced in his tradition.
Early in our marriage, we received
the gift of a menorah, the nine branched candelabrum central to the celebration of Hanukkah. David taught me the Hebrew blessings that are
said before and after the lighting of the candles. And he shared that
traditionally children are given a gift of Hanukkah “gelt”
— gold coins (or chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil) or money. Well,
we really didn’t want to exchange money (we were fresh out of gold
coins at the time) — that didn’t feel quite right. So, what then? And
spontaneously we hit on the idea of exchanging kisses — after the
blessings, 1 kiss per lighted candle. Not a little peck, but the kind
of “I-Love-You-and-I- mean-it!” kiss that requires a bit of time,
attention, and dedication. (By the 8th night, there is some serious
smooching going on!)
Over the years as I have come to understand some of the deeper story of the celebration of Hanukkah and the related traditions,
my appreciation of our special practice also deepens. I find my
thoughts this season going to the idea of dedication, or more
accurately re-dedication; to make once again sacred — through
intention, attention, and simple acts done with love and commitment —
that which has been profaned. And all the while inviting miracles.
What can you re-dedicate through simple acts and loving attention this holiday season?