FIRST PUBLISHED DEC. 24, 2014
It's the last day of Hanukkah 2014. Christmas this year follows on the heels of those sacred Jewish holy days. Our son and his family have flown in to celebrate the holidays with extended family. His wife and daughter are Jewish and we will honor their traditions by giving both of them a gift on this eighth day of light. Tomorrow morning they will be bestowed Christmas gifts when we join my dad, sister and brother-in-law. But today, we acknowledge the miracle that long ago allowed a menorah's candles to burn for eight days with merely a day's worth of oil.
We view it as a blessing when the two holidays coincide. What better way to learn about someone else's religion? As followers of the Baha'i Faith, Tom and I strive to be sensitive to others' religious practices and beliefs. We are aware of Jewish holy days on the calendar now more than ever and remember to send our daughter-in-law the appropriate greeting card to mark the occasion. When she met my extended family, Christmas and Hanukkah were at the same time, so we made sure we had a menorah for her. My parents even bought a book about Judaism so they could learn more about it.
Our youngest granddaughter is not yet 2 years old, but as she grows we will be more than happy to celebrate all her Jewish holidays, holy days and rites of passage. We were unable to attend her naming ceremony, but our sisters made the trip and graciously stood in for us.
One holiday tradition we have begun with our little granddaughter is giving her cute pajamas to wear on Christmas morning, primarily for picture-taking purposes. We are keenly aware, however, not to buy those wih Christmas designs all over them. Instead, we look for snowflakes, winter scenes and colors other than red and green, and her mother very much appreciates this.
Last year, our daughter-in-law asked whether we could create gingerbread houses together, a tradition she and our son started during the holidays. My sister's brand new kitchen island countertop was christened with that sugary holiday masterpiece! We had so much fun they've asked about making another this year. When we discovered our granddaughter has an affinity for trains, not only did we buy a gingerbread village with miniature houses, we found a gingerbread train! And Grampy, being Grampy, just had to get that train for his little granddaughter, too.
Family and faith are important. It is essential we all grow in faith and develop acceptance of all the world's religions. Thus, we come to understand one another on a deeper and more spiritual level, for ultimately the purpose of life, of our very existence, is to know and worship God and to help build community. We do that by living our lives the best we possibly can.
So I leave you with this, gentle readers, on this last day of Hanukkah. May God's light, from whatever source it shines, enable you to share your own bright light with your family and friends this sacred holiday season!