Monday, December 3, 2012

A Holiday Flame

Jake sitting behind the holiday candles on the 4th night of Hanukkah.

The holiday season approaches and swiftly passes in a whirlwind of festivities, traditions and family gatherings.  We start off with Thanksgiving and then Christmas, but for our family and other Jewish families across the globe, a little festival of lights known as Hanukkah, is the holiday in between the two.   For our family, the candlelight of the Hanukiah (the Hanukkah candle display consisting of nine candles) symbolizes so much more then a commemoration of the miracle of Hanukkah -- where the candle oil in the holy temple in Jerusalem lasted for eight nights, when it should have only lasted for one night.   

Hanukkah gelt - chocolate coins

For us, the miracle of Hanukkah and the candle that continued to last beyond expectation, symbolizes our burning flame of hope that stays lit twenty-four hours a day for our son, Jake.  It represents our perseverance in coping with autism and keeping the flame lit of hope to find a cure during our lifetime.  As we light a candle each night, we sing the traditional holiday blessings.  We eat the holiday foods of latkes (crispy potato pancakes) and sufganiot (a jelly filled deep fried pastry, similar to a donut), we play the spin the dreidel games (a four sided top with Hebrew characters on it and which has meaning in the game) with the kids, and give them Hanukkah gelt (chocolate filled gold coins).  

A display of hanukiot - the Hanukkah candle lights at our synagogue

An arts and crafts activity

Having three-year old twins and a son that lives with autism, has made it very difficult for us to make it to services on a regular basis.  By the time the weekend rolls around, we are totally wiped out, and going to services at this point means, for us as parents, that we would be chasing our active three most of the time and probably getting a lot of stares, while not getting much out of the service.  Since we don’t want to compete with the service to be the main attraction, we have decided to approach this endeavor in little baby steps.  

Hanukkah symbols
We decided that Alex or I would alternate taking one of the twins as a mother-daughter/father-son activity, and try to build up their tolerance to the service little by little.  Jake goes to Sunday school every week and the twins have a program called “Torah Tots” that meets once a month as well.  For Jake, being in the classroom has been a challenge (just as it has in public school) because of his special needs.  At this point, we are just happy to be able to expose him to Jewish culture, and whatever sinks in at this time is great by us. 

Hebrew alpha-bet hanging
Before I had kids I always thought that of course, they would be bilingual like me, with Hebrew and English.  However, after the challenges that our family has gone through with speech delays and therapy for all three kids, and for Jake the Autism and global developmental delays as well, I am now of the mindset that if they speak one language well – well, that’s good enough for me.  If they happen to pick up some Hebrew along the way, to any extent, then that’s just icing on the cake. 

 A lit hanukiah

The holidays can present some sort of challenge for everyone – whether it be quirky family dynamics, loss of a loved one, special needs, travel discomforts, financial strain, a need for solitude, or just the general holiday chaos.  

 Whatever your holiday challenges may be, and whether you celebrate holidays or not, 
I hope that you find that burning candle flame that holds your passion 
- whatever it is that brings meaning and fulfillment to your life, 
and a hope in your heart.   

~ Season’s greetings from the Rose family to yours. ~ 

A Holiday Flame was featured on Jews News' Facebook page on 13 December 2012

and also on:

Military Special Needs Network on 7 December 2012

Visit my blog:  
Lily and the Roses ~ 
Creativity with Autism, Twins and Military Adventures 

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  1. Lily, this post resonates with me at a very deep level. As always I am blessed by your shared thoughts and honored to count you a friend. blessings to you and your family throughout the holidays and years.

  2. Thank you so much Jenifer - that means so much to me. I am blessed to have someone as lovely, talented and supportive as you as my friend. Happy holidays to you and your family.

  3. I'm sorry I was only there for the last day! :(