Happy Hanukkah! Happy potato and onion grating, happy latkes, happy applesauce, happy sour cream, happy tradition.
The festival of lights was always celebrated in my childhood home, lightly. We’d say a prayer over the candles, then open a gift each night. The first night, we’d open something small, a coloring book. On the next, we’d open something larger, a Barbie. With each night, the gifts grew increasingly more delightful, but in truth, other than matching outfits in Lord & Taylor boxes from my grandparents, I don’t recall any specific gifts. We rarely remember the presents we can hold. We remember experiences. We remember traditions, tastes, smells, and stories.
For this Hanukkah, candles will be lit, small gifts unwrapped, but it’s my hope that the gifts are those of experience–an envelope promising a movie night in the family room. Where we’ll toast marshmallows in the toaster oven, and pretend to sit beside a magical campfire made of stones, backyard sticks, a flashlight, and red, orange, and yellow tissue paper, aglow. Sleeping bags. A family camp out in the movie room. All we need now is the suggestion of a holiday film for the first night of Hanukkah, suitable to hold the attention of a three year old girl, and three year old train conductor, a forty-three year old man, and his sick thirty-four year old wife who’s too tired to think of grating root vegetables.