Originally published in December 2009, and lovingly reviewed each year since.
December 12th marked the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, the Feast of Dedication. It also marked 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 were 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?
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 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, or in some way made less by our lack of attention. And all the while inviting miracles.
What can you re-dedicate through simple acts and loving attention this holiday season?