To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.
~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
I suppose many of my friends and acquaintances might have wondered, as they saw pictures on Facebook of Maeve gazing at our lit menorah, whether or not we have some Jewish influence in our family. The short answer is, not that I know of, but Maeve is really interested in Hanukkah. I got her a really great book, from a local used bookstore when she was not quite two, called Hanukkah, by Roni Schotter. It's just a simple, lovely description of a family celebrating Hanukkah together, making latkes, singing songs, and enjoying each other. Maeve immediately loved it, and I've been reading to her year round ever since.
So when it seemed to me to be more than just a passing fancy, I bit the bullet and bought a menorah (or chanukkiah as I am informed) and a box of the special candles. However, as our family isn't religious in a Jewish way, I got some advice from the director of Religious Education at my church. She said for a three year old to enjoy Hanukkah, the best thing to do was simply light the candles and sing a simple song. Which was good advice, since I'd been preparing a perhaps too-complicated eight day curriculum of reflections which in retrospect would not have engaged my kid all that well.
So I quickly wrote a song for us to sing while we light the candles. It's sung to the tune of The Water is Wide, an old English folk song that I sing to Maeve at bedtime, so she knows the tune.
There is a light
That shines in you
And in my eyes
You see it, too.
And so we light
Our menorah here
the light we share.
Simple, straightforward, a celebration of light in the darkness, which we all carry inside of us. And that's why our daughter is celebrating Hanukkah this year. Because she wants to.
And no, I didn't get get gifts for all eight nights, although if we gave Christmas a miss, I certainly would. No one needs that many gifts, Christmas AND Hanukkah! Tonight I'll try my hand at making latkes, I'll let you know how it goes.