Bah humbug. Can a Jew say that? Is there a way to say it in Yiddish or Hebrew? Well, I don’t know of one, so I’ll stick with Bah humbug.
I’ve been writing about getting in the mood for the holidays (see my recent news releases), and I can do that when it comes to the actual observance of Chanukah – you know, lighting the candles and such, but I’m having a heck of a time getting there during the initial phase. You know which one I mean? Shopping.
The thought of fighting the crowds to find eight presents for each of my children just does not excite me, nor does trying to fit this job into my too-busy schedule. So, what’s a mom to do?
I suppose I could go ahead and use my favorite trick…catalogue shopping from the convenience of my home. And I can do that for a few things with my daughter. For my son, no way exists. Nothing he wants is in a catalogue. So, I guess I’m off to the stores.
Actually, my husband is off to the stores. That’s my other trick… “Well, I’m just not sure what to buy, honey, so maybe you could go get it.” That works great with technological items, like the Ipod my daughter wants. It works okay on the drums my son wants, too. CDs my husband can handle, too, but the rest is up to me.
I hate just buying to buy. I want to purchase 8 meaningful gifts or at least gifts the kids really want. As they have gotten older – 12 and 14 – however, it has become harder and harder, especially since most of what they want is very expensive. That leaves little money left over for the smaller trinkets for the other nights.
I usually combine all my sisters and my in-laws gifts into Chanukah to help come up with those eight nights of gifts. It defrays costs a bit, too.
I haven’t gotten out my Chanukah decorations yet either. The box is fairly easily accessible, but I just don’t have the energy. Will anyone even notice if the dreidle-covered table cloth doesn’t show up this year?
You know what? I’ll notice. So, this weekend…after Shabbat, I’ll haul out the box and do the decorating. You know why? Because without doing so I won’t have walked my talk. I won’t have practiced what I preach.
If in no other way than this, I can make Chanukah meaningful and spiritual. By creating a sacred space for the eight days by decorating, I take what could be a holiday celebration devoid of meaning and spirituality and make it possible at least to make room for God. I create a mishkan, a sanctuary in which we can bring in the light of God with our lighting of the candles. I create a mikdash, a dwelling place for the Divine, so God can join us on Chanukah.
I’m not sure I can make the gifts too spiritual or meaningful…I mean, really, is there meaning or spirituality in giving an Ipod or some bongos? Well…like everything else, within them resides a spark of God. So, I guess if I look at it from a different perspective, anything I give is at least spirit-full if not also meaning-full.
So, off I go to the stores…along with everyone else…to listen to Christmas – not Chanukah – music, and to fight the crowds and to shop. And on Sunday, I’ll get in the spirit of the holiday. I promise. I’ll create a space for God to join us, and God willing, She will. Ken yehe ratzon.