The first three nights of Chanukah felt nearly tragic this year. On Saturday night we did Havdalah and then lit the menorah. My daughter shook her head and yelled “no, no, no!” as we sang the blessings. My husband thought it was because she was used to Shabbat and was expecting challah. Seeing as we had some challah from the previous night left over, we offered her some. That didn’t work. Hmph. On night two, we were away in Washington, DC. Our hotel lit the menorah moments before we came down to the lobby. Therefore, I knelt down by her stroller and sang the blessings to her as we looked at the hotel’s menorah. She protested again. This time it was quite loud and it drew interesting looks from the other hotel guests. Night three we were back at home and she said, “no, no, no” as I sang the blessings. What was I going to do to get through the rest of the holiday?
I clicked on it to see what the link offered. The link led me to a page with Chanukah resources from Gateways, which is located in Boston. There I found an illustrated version of the Chanukah blessings, which explain in English and in pictures what the blessings mean. While this page was supposed to be for children with special needs, I found the resources to be fantastic for all kids since most could benefit from understanding a bit more about the meaning behind the blessings, songs, etc. Therefore, I printed out the blessings pages and figured I’d prep Isabelle for the fourth night’s blessings by reviewing the pictures with her before we lit the menorah.
That idea worked like a charm. About 15 minutes before we lit the menorah, I reviewed the pictures with her and softly sang the blessings. She seemed to like it when I pointed to the pictures. Therefore, once my husband came home from work, I laid the blessings out beside the menorah and pointed to the pictures as we chanted the blessings in Hebrew. She didn’t protest. On the fourth night of Chanukah she was content. (Big sigh of relief.)
While Isabelle loves Shabbat and understands our Friday night rituals, I think it’s because she knows what to expect. We do it every week. When it comes to holidays we celebrate once a year, I have to do a better job of explaining the meaning behind the things we do to Isabelle and I have to make it fun. While holiday-related art projects are nice, resources like the ones I found on Gateways‘ website are much more beneficial to me since they’ll help her understand the meaning behind the rituals.