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Dinosaur Chanukah

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12/04/2013

Dinosaur Chanukah photo 1

I’m not particularly proud of it, but this is what I did for Chanukah. Strike that. This was my attempt to make Chanukah as cool as Christmas.

I happened upon a Facebook post about a couple who told their kids each year that, once a year, their toys woke up for the night to have a party. The kids eagerly anticipated seeing the party aftermath in the morning. Cue the lesson on wonderment and imagination.

"Bee would go crazy for this," I thought to myself, and the light bulb went on.

This year, despite being more than a month ahead of Christmas, Chanukah already has taken a backseat to Christmas movies, Christmas books, Christmas clothes, and Christmas events. My rational side says, “What’s the big deal? Chanukah is a minor holiday, and really, you can’t compete with Christmas (or at least, you really shouldn’t want to, you Scrooge). It’s part of American culture. Find a way to enjoy Chanukah for what it is, and let it go.”

The other side of my brain said, “Tell Bee that Chanukah is the dinosaurs’ favorite holiday, and that they wake up on each of the eight nights to have a party!”

Dinosaur Chanukah photo 2

Genius? Petty and pathetic? Perhaps both.

Reasons my idea was genius:

1. Bee was SO EXCITED for Chanukah.
2. Bee was SO EXCITED for Chanukah.
3. Bee was SO EXCITED for Chanukah.

Reasons my idea was petty and pathetic:

1. Dinosaurs have nothing to do with Chanukah, which means Bee was SO EXCITED for dinosaurs, not Chanukah, if I’m being honest with myself.
2. I get on my high horse about not feeling the need to compete with Christmas, yet the first time my child tells me he likes Christmas best of all and that it’s his favorite “season,” I’m the first one scrambling to make Chanukah cooler.
3. I dislike most things that attempt to make Chanukah more Christmas-y (like this and this). They feel inauthentic, like we’re saying to our kids, “Oh, sorry you’re Jewish and you can’t have a Christmas tree … decorate this bush instead.” The dinosaurs on Chanukah? Did nothing to enrich my son’s actual Chanukah experience.

I genuinely like Christmas, and I’m getting more and more comfortable with my son liking it, too. It’s part of his heritage and history, and frankly, it’s a ridiculous bonanza of happiness. Really, what’s not to like? I guess I’m just frustrated that the Jewish holidays, while full of meaning and rich history and tradition, don’t deliver quite the punch that their Christian counterparts deliver.

I love being Jewish, and I want my sons to feel the same way. Perhaps the way to go about this isn’t forcing T-Rex and triceratops into our Chanukah celebration, but rather modeling a happy Jewish life for them, a Jewish life that’s filled with delicious food that we cook together, pizza Shabbats with our beloved friends, giving back to our community together and holidays celebrated with precious family – including Christmas.

For the record, though, Bee’s reaction to the dinos was priceless, and we will definitely be repeating the exercise at some point next year (though maybe not for eight nights - how many places can we possibly come up with to set up 45 dinosaurs?).

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