Holidays, Through the Eyes of My Son

menorah (photo by Wendy Kennar)

  Because I’m a writer, I’m constantly taking down notes.  Writing down things that I want to remember, things that I want to write about, things that resonated with me in some way.

  I recently found one such note I wrote back on May 11th of this year.  We were talking about the winter holidays during our family dinnertime.  My son was asking why Hanukkah is spelled so many different ways, and I explained to him that it’s really a Hebrew word that we’re translating into English so there are variations.  (He then told me that his preferred spelling was “Hanukkah.”)

  We were comparing and contrasting the holidays, talking about what they have in common and what makes each holiday unique.  And Ryan surprised me with what he said.  He asked me to spell Kwanzaa, and he counted out the letters on his fingers.  7.  Then he asked me to spell Hanukkah, and he counted out the letters on his fingers.  8.  And my seven-year-old son came to the conclusion that Kwanzaa lasts for seven nights because it has seven letters, and Hanukkah lasts for eight nights because it has eight letters.

  I loved the simplicity of that explanation.  Especially because there’s so much about holidays and religion that I don’t understand at all.  For instance, why does Christmas occur each year on December 25th, but Easter varies, and sometimes falls in March and other years during April?  Why does the start of Hanukkah vary so widely?  (Remember the year it started during Thanksgiving week?  In our house, we were eating turkey and latkes).

  At any rate, as the days seem to get more frenzied, parking lots more crowded, and lines longer, try to keep in mind that it really is about the simple things — being with your family and loved ones and enjoying the moment.

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