I have always loved this time of year....Hanukkah (or Chanukkah, or Chanuka or however you spell it!) because it's a chance for my organized self, my shopping self and my love of gifts self to all come together.
I mean, EIGHT NIGHTS OF GIFTS! How more perfect does it get than that? Eight nights to decide what to get people, the perfect order to put them in - to build up to the eighth night - always the highlight night! Of course we know there are always going to be certain theme nights - socks & underwear Jewish night, to name just two. But, what about those other nights? Now that's the fun.
So what do I do to get ready? I start listening to my son for the six months prior - what is the thing he is taking about the most, what is the the thing that has lost luster? In years past - before he left me and decided to go to college (oops Jewish guilt there) - it was easy. Now that he is away so much, I have to glean the information from text, phone and Skype conversations.
Then the list begins - Night one is always something Jewish in theme; a menorah or a book; then the challenge becomes ordering nights 2-7 to make it build up yet still be fun. Night three or night seven for socks and underwear? Night two or night six for clothes? What about that gift card? I love this part....the little bit of OCD I have comes out in full force!
Next? The wrapping and the short poems begin - each gift gets a cute little saying on the tag... "night number three means I love you more than a tree" might signify a Barnes & Noble gift card (books = trees)...OK, don't sigh, I do the best I can.
And all of this leads to night eight - the BIG GIFT night. If every other night is small, fun and very significant, night eight is probably the opposite. Something asked or wished for that would not be purchased any other time.
But you know the best thing of all? The smile on my son's face as he reads the tag, opens the gift and hugs me and thanks me. He loves the theme nights, he looks forward to the socks & underwear night, he loves the traditions as much as I do. And in a time where I see him less that I ever imagined, it's precious. It's not very often that we spend eight days in a row making someone happy and having them return that happiness to you.
That's the real miracle of Hanukkah.