Thanks to Heifer International for sponsoring this post.
The way my stepmom presents Hannukah, long distance, to my kids is definitely worth sharing — and requires some visuals.
A few years ago, she gave us this Hanukkah tapestry. Each pocket is intended to hold a small treat. There is a little candle to dangle outside of the pocket as the days pass.
When Hanukkah approaches each year, a box arrives from my dad and stepmom with eight gifts inside, along with a set of index cards, numbered 1 to 8. The index cards have a sticker on them and I place the cards in the numerically matching pockets of the tapestry.
Each gift in the box they’ve sent has a corresponding sticker on its tag. So, each night of Hanukkah, after lighting the candles, the children take the correct card out of the pocket and look at the sticker. (Night #5 shows two small dreidels this year.)
And then they look in the pile of wrapped gifts for the one that has the matching sticker. If the sticker matches, that is the gift they are supposed to open tonight.
Did you find the match?
The hint in the card above says “Julian – connect the dots to see what we donated to a boy your age.” You see, my parents dedicate one night of Hanukkah to a charitable donation on behalf of our family.
They try to pick something to which the kids can relate, for example, a jacket for a little boy who needs one, or, a gift from Heifer International, such as a Trio of Rabbits or a Flock of Chicks.
Do I let my kids keep a trio of rabbits?
No, silly. When you order a gift from Heifer International, the livestock does not get delivered to your door. Instead, it goes to a household in a developing country that will be able to grow their family income by raising the animals.
For example, a dairy cow provided to a family delivers enough milk daily to sustain them (and their neighbors!) plus the cow can produce a calf every year, so the family begins to have assets they can share or sell in their communities.
Visit Heifer.org to see the gift catalog (and send your sister “A Goat” for the holidays!)
The Fifth Night Project — a movement to encourage a gift to a child in need on the fifth night of Hanukkah — is not an age-old tradition, but was started in the Bay Area a few years ago. It speaks to me this year more than ever as we need to promote kindness and understanding from our households to others who are living in different circumstances.
Do you have a tradition of charity in your family holiday celebrations?