Well, Guess what, folks, This year is different.
No matter who you are or where you live your life has likely been turned completely upside down at some point this year, right? Schools have been shut down. People have lost jobs. Life has put many of us in difficult situations and left us feeling emotionally exhausted. Parents being teachers, teachers being parents, the list goes on and on...
As I thought about all this back in August, I came to the realization that I really wanted to do the Holiday season differently this year. With all the "normals" of life in jeapordy, I questioned if I had enough emotional fortitude to get through a Christmas Season. I started to worry about all the "usual" Holiday things that brought the kids joy that we would possibly have to forgo.
This thought stuck with me and I turned it over many times in my mind before coming up with a solution to my Christmas Connundrum.
I decided that this year, I did not want to celebrate Christmas at all. I didn't want to try to stuff myself into a box of feeling "right" or "normal". Every time I came back to this idea, I found that it felt like the right thing to do. Skip Christmas, but instead, celebrate Hannukah!
We still get our family celebration. We still give and receive gifts, but we are going to look at the Holiday season through a new lense. No Santa, no baby Jesus. We are going to gain new perspective on life. All the expectation and "entitlement" and the "normals" of Christams are out the window. We are going to make a memory as a family by doing something different.
I know we are not Jewish. I know we can't just jump into a new Holiday tradition like it's no big deal. So as we prepare to celebrate Hannukah, we are also keeping up with the current Torah Portion for each week. I have been studying it myself and then sharing it with the kids at the dinner table. I have always been curious about this Holiday. Ever since my father, Rev. Randy Robinson, took my Confrimation class to the Jewish Synnagogue when I was 13, I have held a respect for the Jewish faith. Visiting the Synnogouge stuck with me. I felt a connection to it that I just couldn't describe. As this year has progressed, I have found myself going back to my own roots of faith and right to Hannukah is where it lead me.
So, this year, as an established single mom, creating her own way through life, I will have a Menorah in my home, and we will learn all about the Miracle of the Lights.
When I told the kids my idea, skip Christmas and celebrate Hannukah, they were a little hesitant, but ultimately they both got on board. They were willing to try something new along with me.
As the time to celebrate draws closer, the kids have now realized they could make a "Hannukah list". I have to admit, its kidnd of enjoyable to hear the kids talk about "what they want" without attirbuting it to Santa. They are open about their desires and there is no pretense about it.
Lily brought me her list. I read through it:
I stopped to ask her, about #7. "What does 100 Mom mean?" I asked her.
"It's the $100.00 you keep, the special one."
I looked at her and tried hard not to burst out laughing. I did manage a chuckle. "You want me to just give you $100.00 for Hannukah."
"Yes," she answered, "I want the one you got for your birthday."
She not only wants me to give her $100.00, she wants me to give her a very specific single $100.00 bill.
Earlier this year I recieved a card for my birthday containing this single $100.00 bill. I kept paper dollar and did not spend it. Until I needed to...I don't even remember why, but I needed cash in smaller bills and it just wasn't going to work that I would be able to get to an ATM. So, I asked Carrick if he could cash out the $100.00. He was saving up for his Harry Potter Vacation at that point and had plenty of cash. He gave me smaller bills and I handed him the $100.
When the time came to go on vacation (back in March) Carrick tried to get me to give him replacement money so that he could keep his single $100.00 bill at home, safe, but also have that money to spend. I told him if he gave me the $100.00 I would cash it out for smaller bills that he could take that money with him and I would keep the $100.00 safe, but the dollar would then become mine again.
He was not ready to give up the $100.00 bill. The thought of actually having a REAL $100.00 bill was novel to him. So, he left the bill at home when he went on vacation. It was his gurantee that he would still have money at home to spend on "non-vacation stuff" after we returned home, when the time was right. He wasn't in a hurry to spend it, but it was there if he wanted to. As it turned out, he returned home with money to spare after vacation. So he didn't have to even touch the $100.00 when he got back. The dollar just sat there, in his posession until...
The time came when he did want to spend the $100.00. He decided that it was more appealing to him to have money to spend than a $100.00 sitting in his piggy bank. He brought it to me and I gave him 5 twenties and he gave me the $100.00 back.
Which brings me back to the Hannukah List...
Lily wants me to GIFT her that exact $100.00??? This girl literally asked for $100.00 for Hannukah?
(Would it be inappropriate to insert an 'Oy ve'?)
I am amused at the fact that she asked for such a thing, but also wondering, "would this have also been on her Christmas list? $100.00?!"
While I want to say to her, "that's not the reason for the season" what do I know? I am learning about this brand new...maybe asking for money is a part of Hannukah, I don't know.
What I DID say to her, after a moment to gether my thoughts, was this,"You may have the $100.00. AND...You may not spend it unless you have earned $100.00 of allowance." Meaning, yes, the gift is yours, and you may not spend it until you've earned it. This means taking out the trash, cleaning the litter box, putting away laundry and clearing the table will all now be something she will want to do. She will want to spend that $100.00 and will work to be able to do that. I have found that motivation to get allowance money has been slacking with her lately. I am so happy that she found the motivation she needs to do what I need her to do! She is actually exicted about the prospect of hanging on to the $100.00 for a while and earning the right to spend it.
My son was there for this conversaion as well. His jaw dropped when he heard that his sister wanted the $100.00. As he listened to what I required of her in order to recieve this gift, he realized what I was up to. There was a smidge of respect earned in that moment. My Best Fun Dollars student was learning a new lesson. We must work for what we want. Getting a $100.00 is a wonderful gift. And, let's be real, folks, I am a single mom and that trash is not going to take itself out. So if I can buy $100.00 worth of chores from my daughter for Hannukah, hey, that's a present for me too! Mazel Tov!
What Carrick doesn't know is that I am giving him a $100.00 bill as well. It will be the gift for the last night of Hannukah for both of them.
Building family traditions. Making memories. I want the kids to look back and think, "Remember when the world was upside down and mom taught us that new thing and we made all those memories?" (And mom didn't go crazy trying to squeeze this strange year into the "usual" box.)
Learning something new and celebrating a new tradition has given me something to look forward to without anxiety or pressure. Trying a different thing and letting go of all that I want the Christmas Holiday to be while still maintaining the feeling of gathering, family, gratitude and celebration. That is what I am after here. No matter what you choose to celebrate or look forward to for the rest of this crazy year, remember, it's ok to not want to feel stuck, its ok to want to get out of the rut. Light some lights for whatever you choose to celebrate and we will all get through these dark days together.
|The Hannukah Menorah I chose from Etsy. Vintage, brass, made in Isreal. |