It is Chanukah!  We’ve already lit the first candle; said the blessings and sang the Chanukah song. For tonight there is peace in my home, for which I am very grateful.

And tonight there is one child at home,

like one candle,

PlantInPot

and one mother,

one wish; for love

to surround us, and

accompany us on our paths.

I recently started another Gratitude journal. Can’t hurt, could help. Speaking earlier today to a loved one about this, he remembered I’ve mentioned this is good self-therapy. To search for the nuggets of truth and inspiration that made our life a good one today — and to write it, so that it is more than a memory, but a truth.

The picture of the plant — a bit chewed on by our cat — with that intrepid sprout on its own, pushing itself on a new path … is a great visual image of what my life has felt like for so very long. A welcome symbol of the strength inherent in each of us, if only we can act on it.

Happy Chanukah! May the light continue to shine on each of us, and through each of us to another so that we can fill the empty spaces with love.

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Wishing you a Happy Chanukah; with latkes and gelt and everything peaceful and pleasing.

Most especially I wish you light…  
Light from the candles,

Light within to show you past the dark places,

Light to warm you,

Light to allow others to know you,

Light to increase your vision; know that you are cared for, you are wonderful, you are needed, you are loved.

 

The Christmas music in the background where I work drives me nuts. I try to ignore it, but I just don’t like it, especially when it reverberates in my head. How many times can you hear these songs without wishing, hoping, wanting to hear instead a beautiful Beethoven piano concerto? I’d even take John Lennon singing Imagine for the millionth time. 00f/43/arve/g2496/058

The shopping frenzy both annoys and amazes me. Where DO folks find the money to keep buying, and why do they keep buying? Has any scientist studied large groups of people and what percentage of the people in the large group believes buying lots of presents brings the giver or receiver happiness?

And last point today; please stop wishing me a Merry Christmas. I don’t celebrate the holiday. I’m not Christian. I enjoy my Jewish background, Jewish holidays and rituals, the Jewish Sabbath each week, and Jewish philosophy and morals. My holiday doesn’t put me in a frenzy of gift buying because I am like a squirrel; I find gifts and put them away through the year, for birthdays and for our winter holiday of Chanukah. I also give to charities, especially to Down syndrome research.

GiftBookBeLoved2 I try every day to enjoy being alive. I try every day to be grateful for the many blessings in my life. And most of all I try every day to give love and kindness. And at least at work, in December, I smile at customers and not let my annoyance at the tedious repetition of Christmas songs turn my mood sour.

I’ve included pictures; The top picture is actually from a commercial greeting card and I can’t remember the maker, sorry. I just love the image. The 2nd picture is a page in a gift book. I painted the paper with water colors and then illustrated with doodles and part of a quote.
Loss2009

And last, for my friends Margaret Anne and her children, in honor of her brother and their uncle Frank who recently died. This is my favorite quote and though I’ve already sent a handmade card with this quote on it, I often make cards for bereavement which say; “Death is nothing else but going home to God; the bond of love will be unbroken for eternity.” Quote by Mother Teresa.

Chanukah is here and with it,  the misunderstandings, lack of knowledge… and this year for my older daughter with a son in 2nd grade; sheer stupidity. She may go in and talk about Chanukah to her son’s class, but she may not discuss any religious aspects of the holiday. Chanukah is not about gifts, or chocolate coins, or eating things cooked in oil. Chanukah is about the fight against oppression over 2,000 years ago. A fight to pray, express our beliefs and teach our children about Judaism. And Chanukah keeps reoccurring, needing us to remember- to BE Jews- and to be kind in the reflection that we all have our battles to brave and win in life.

Chan-new-shmoozIt IS a religious holiday. It’s about religious persecution and religious freedom, my daughter said. The reply; No way, take it or leave it. And so my best advice having dealt with all this through 5 children in schools… ask my grandson if he would like to present. Then if he agrees help him make a list with 5 or 6 points about Chanukah. How we celebrate at home… What’s special about Chanukah… And so on. Then with list in hand, a Menorah [candle holder for Chanukah] and some Chanukah paper napkins and/or Chanukah cards he will be prepared to “show and tell.”

Santa will be visiting my grandson’s school. They told her Santa is not a religious symbol, though Santa does not visit Jewish homes and has nothing to do with Chanukah, Kwanza, Chinese New Year, or any other religious or cultural holidays that occur in December/January. My daughter may offer the name of a Jewish song for the “holiday” assembly, but cannot hand it in with translations of words like menorah, hora- a dance,  because they want to observe copyright laws and obtain the music officially and legally. Yet if she does not provide the information she believes it will not be sought out.

Christmas is a legal holiday in the United States. So while a Christian will tell you that Santa is not a religious symbol, it is part of the decorations, family observances, stories, photographs and events surrounding the holiday. A tree is also not of religious significance, yet my childhood home never had a “Chanukah bush” and neither did the home I made for my children.

Chan-2008-shmoozWhy can’t we celebrate and embrace that which makes us each unique and special. For each person who is part of a religion that is part of who they are, their family celebrations and family memories.

And as far as Thanksgivvukah goes– don’t insult me with such a crude and meaningless made up word that can only confuse the many people who know nothing of Jewish holidays. Chanukah is 8 nights and days long. It begins each day at sunset because our learned leaders deduced from the book of Genesis which says; God created night and day, meaning a 24 hour period begins as night begins. And by the way we enjoy eating our foods cooked in oil [as unhealthy as that may be] for 8 nights because when the small band of Jews fighting the larger army of Greeks were triumphant and went to rededicate the holy Temple, only enough sacred oil was left to burn for one night, but it burned for 8 nights, hence 8 days of holiday.

And so, A Great Miracle Happened There. What do  I want for Chanukah? I want  humanity to respect each person’s rights and not allow anyone to be hungry, cold, treated as less than any other person, and allowed the dignity of each one’s life choices and innate paths through their lives.  And –  I –  want  –  peace.

** Two cards, top one recent, bottom one from 2008; both celebrating the uniqueness of Judaism and Chanukah.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009
I’ve been thinking a lot about 1-holidays, 2-giving gifts, 3-the world and its resources, and 4-earning money with my art, some of which is certainly useful and some non-utilitarian but done for art sake.
Okay, first; holidays by a round-about route. Starting with the word machetunum which is a Yiddish word meaning family related by marriage, like the in-laws of one of my children. So… apparently one of my machetunum has written in a public and condemnatory way about the use of “Happy Holiday” instead of the more specific “Happy Christmas.” It’s apparent this person is angry and feels this less specific terminology somehow detracts from Christmas.
Is there no room in this person’s heart for embracing the religous observance of non-Christians?
I put the emphasis on the word religious for a reason. One of the things I create with my commercial collages, are Christmas cards. In past years the sayings I’ve used speak of hope, love, joy, angels, and G-d. Did I mention love? My respect for religious experiences other than mine come from my core belief that holidays strengthen families, and therefore at root are about love. That is what has been lost in the above stupid discussion offered in a venue in which the stupidity is there for all to see. So that’s numbers 1 and 4 on my list at top of this post.
The reason I mentioned the earth’s resources and giving gifts, is because I see them tied together. We don’t have a newspaper subscription currently, it’s too expensive. If I could budget for it, I would have one for Nato, who loves being responsible for bringing it in the house, and looks things up without being able to read- pictures of sports, the comics, the weather, and especially pictures from new movies. I save the comics from Sunday papers for wrapping paper. Been doing it for years. I save wrapping paper that comes in the house for use in my collages, or for homemade gift cards. And to tell the truth, I’m known for pulling off the minimal bits of tape and then placing the twice-used comics into the paper recycling bin! Yes, I’m that goofy about re-use and recycling.
This year the cost of mailing things having grown beyond my budget I’ve already purchased three original works of local art from the gallery where I exhibit/sell my stuff, and have put two in the mail for under $2. each. Yeah. I’m sitting on a package to my cousin-by-marriage whose 86th (or so) birthday I wanted to celebrate, by sending him a new 1,000 piece puzzle. To mail it would cost over $7. It’s still sitting in the backseat of my car.
I love writing letters and receiving letters, the old fashioned way. Perhaps that accounts for my continuing desire to make cards that need to be mailed with a little stamp on the envelope. I am angry about the current postal prices. So the stack of things that normally would go in a box to each of my children, will be saved for when I see them each in person. Else I’ll have to allocate my earnings from a show just toward postage. Somehow that doesn’t seem right.
Photos on this post, from the top: painting of religious Jewish family lighting Chanukah candles, a platter of potato latkes (pancakes) traditionally eaten during Chanukah, and a Chanukah card. The video below of a child singing the Chanukah Song is dedicated to Rowan and my 5+.