It obviously isn’t our first Chanukah. We’ve been celebrating Chanukah as a family since before our first was born but in so many ways this year feels like our first real Chanukah. It’s the first time at least one of our kids (Sam) has figured out what’s going on and his utter joy and excitement each day when he realizes that tonight is indeed another night of family, prayers, food, dreidel and of course, presents is just making this Chanukah seem better than any Chanukah in the past. It’s different when your kids are still infants, and you’re shoving gifts and latkes (fried potato patties) in their face, and they are just staring blankly back at you wondering why you’re doing all this weird stuff and interrupting their normal bedtime routine. It’s like throwing a party but the guest of honor never shows up. Yes, of course, Chanukah is a religious holiday and while we always keep that in the forefront of our minds, celebrating the holiday with children just makes it so much better. Watching Sam devour his third latke at dinner, I said to Gabe, “This is why we had kids.”

The photos are of the first night. Most of our decorations are homemade and made from colored paper and items from the dollar bin at Michael’s. Sam insisted on wearing his dinosaur pajamas all day and because I was too busy preparing for the evening’s festivities, I allowed it. My parents came over and my mom helped me cook while Gabe and my dad entertained the kids and talked about manly things, I’m sure. Probably bees and hunting.

The kids were overjoyed with their gifts. Typically we give a “big” present on the first night and then each night the gifts become progressively smaller. I suppose you could say gifts given on the seventh and eighth nights are the equivlent to what Christians refer to as stocking stuffers. Not everyone does it this way, but it was how I was raised and so I decided to carry on the tradition with our kids. Eddie received a new pair of pajamas and a wooden Kuerig, complete with wooden coffee pods, mugs, and cream and sugar. She loves watching me make coffee every morning and has always been fascinated by the Keurig. I thought it would be a hit and I was right. She and Sam have been “making” me coffee for four days straight. Sam also received new pajamas as well as a 180 piece set of Goobis, which are basically little magnetic sticks with magnetic balls and plastic joints for making structures. He absolutely loves them. It was a perfect first night.