Eight Lessons from Hanukkah for All of Us

The following was written by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life. It originally appeared in November of 2010.

When Hanukkah begins this Wednesday night I’ll light the brightly-colored candles with my family, sing the ancient blessings and traditional songs, and delight in my kids’ enjoyment of the holiday. And then I’ll wash dishes or pay bills or fold laundry, I’ll tuck my little ones into sleep, and I’ll prepare for work on Thursday.

In terms of religious significance Hanukkah is actually a minor festival. We make time in our schedules to remember a long-ago miracle but we move about our regular days. It’s a little sparkle at the beginning of winter. Its significance is conflated because of its proximity to Christmas, but really, they’re not in the same league.

Still, I think there’s something in Hanukkah for everybody:

1. Let your light shine out.

The two-sentence version of the Hanukkah story is that when the Eternal Flame in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was extinguished, only enough oil to relight it for one day could be found. God made the day’s oil ration burn for eight days, the time it took for messengers to travel and return with more rations. Jews light the Hanukkah candles to remember the miracle of the oil, and they light them in their windows and doorways to publicize the miracle. What gifts can you share with your neighbors?

2. Develop the long view.

We’re commemorating a story that occurred over 2000 years ago. It still matters. Can you imagine what impact your actions will have in 2000 years? How can we add relevance to our everyday lives?

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Getting Down and Dirty: Connecting With the Season

The following was written by contributor Robin Zipporah.

These are narcissus bulbs, just waiting for a dry day to be buried in our flower bed.

They were a gift from another family, dug out of their garden in early summer, when the dad was thinning his flower beds and the world was vibrant with blossoms and thrumming with bees and humming birds and sparkling with radiant sun.

As I type this, it’s been raining for days here in Maryland. Right now, the air is damp and dusk is racing us home each night. Our friends’ summer garden, where we thanked them for excess bulbs and snacked on blueberries straight from the bushes, feels terribly distant.

When my second child was two last year, she was made absolutely distraught by autumn’s arrival and Mother Nature’s decision to close up shop like just another community pool or boardwalk ice cream stand. She didn’t like the disappearance of the fireflies, then of the long evenings, then of sun warm enough to play without a jacket, and with the onset of winter, that final disappearing act: all the world’s color left us.

She was too young to remember that spring always follows winter and color and blossoms and grass and sunshine and sprinklers and ice pops all would emerge again, like a bejeweled butterfly after a long cocoon’s sleep. She didn’t understand, and all of our reassurances could be based only on faith, not evidence.

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Storytelling Day: The True Story of the Tooth Fairy

The following is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not Ever Still Life.

It was just a few weeks ago. On the night of her fifth birthday, just before bedtime, our oldest child let out a startled shriek. I thought I knew what had surprised her but I went upstairs to check.

I found her in her bedroom staring at the parcel dangling from the ceiling. She had received her registration packet – she was successfully signed up with the Tooth Fairy Network.

Per the instructions in the packet, this was what I read to her:

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