It’s inevitable that at this time of year, some people choose to spend their time talking about how much it irritates them that Chanukah has morphed into the Jewish Christmas.  Some say that just because it comes around during the same time of year that the idea behind the holiday is lost and that we should “keep it separate.” Others complain that it’s all about the presents, not the religious freedom or miracles or any of that business that is the reason for celebration in the first place, but today on this first day of the Festival of Lights, I choose not to buy into any of those ideas, as really, they are just that – people’s ideas. It is what we make it to be.

And to me, Chanukah is…

A set of traditions.  One that I am glad I get to pass down to my daughter, and to share with the Man (who incidentally is not a member of the tribe, to anyone’s knowledge, but is very much my people regardless of his religious beliefs.)

A time to rejoice. Maybe not over the triumph of the Maccabees, but simply in the fact that I am able to celebrate anything together with my family in a world where so many do not have that opportunity to do so.

A time to eat latkes. So. Many. Latkes.  With sour cream or applesauce, from a box or from scratch, they are delectable.

A time to sing songs. My little monkey has sung these holiday tunes for a while now, but tonight she was on fire.  Her favorite is S’vivon – a traditional song about spinning the top or dreidel. She spun her tush around while she sang…

“Mommy, this is my song!” It totally was her jam. Until the next song was her jam too. “Mommy, this is my song!”

Speaking of which, it’s also time to spin the dreidel and teach kids how to play games and be light.

And my favorite of all, Chanukah is a time to kindle flames, to look at the candlelight, appreciate its beauty and power. It’s a time to bring the light into our homes and let it emanate from there into a world that needs it as desperately as California needs rain.

First night, two menorahs

First night, two menorahs

Aglow for eight nights

Reminding us all to be

Glimmering ideals.