Last Wednesday evening, the smells of Hanukkah permeated my home. I inhaled the aroma of latkes, burning candles, and chocolate gelt. My two boys, who have been counting down the days until Hanukkah since Halloween, beamed with delight and asked if they could each light their own menorahs.
My mind flashed back to my childhood memories of Hanukkah. When I was young, we had a large silver Jewish star, made out of cardboard and aluminum foil that my mom would display every December in our living room. We decorated the star each year with the Hanukkah arts & craft projects we made in Brownies and public school (when all of the other children were making Christmas tree ornaments). On the first night of Hanukkah, my mom would place presents and tons of dreidels around the bottom of the star.
Thinking back to the warmth, smells, and visions of my childhood Hanukkah, the celebration swept over me as I watched my each of my boys laugh, sing, light their own menorahs this year. It only lasted a few seconds, but I didn’t want the candle lightening to end that night.
“Can we open presents now!” my little one asked in an excited but a bit too demanding way.
Looking into his big bright eyes, I saw the same expression I had as a child when it was time to open presents. As a child, I thought it was all about the presents and like my son, I used to think the bigger the box the better. Looking back, however, I only remember a few presents that I received. What I do remember are the smells, the laughter, and the lights.
I don’t remember what I received, but I clearly remember the feelings that filled my heart every Hanukah. I thought I was craving new presents every year, but what I was really craving was the heart and soul of Hanukkah.