We tell our kids all the time, “Chanukkah is not a major holiday in the Jewish tradition. It’s only a festival.” It is a wonderful celebration of bravery and miracles and light, but it has nothing to do with presents. Americans added on that part because of Christmas.
Then we spend 8 nights lighting candles, playing dreidle, eating more than our share of fried food and giving them too many presents. I can’t help it. I love picking out presents for them.
This year we ended up sort of practicing what we preach. We were not together as a family for the first few nights. We have celebrated from different shores. We haven’t given them any presents…. yet.
Not only is this the holiday season, but it is also our wedding anniversary and my birthday. Yes, we got married on my birthday, December 26.
When Chanukkah falls during the later part of December, all of these celebrations converge. My husband and I like to celebrate what we call our “Birthaversary” each year by getting away alone together for a few days. Since we were expecting his mother to arrive next week, we celebrated early, thus missing the first few nights of Chanukkah with our daughters.
The younger girl has spent 5 glorious days at Camp Erdman in Mokuleia. We packed her and some dreidles and some chocolate coins and dropped her off last Sunday. Our teenager stayed with her grandmother on the West Side enjoying family and going back and forth to wrestling practice in Kapalama.
Husband and I packed our own bags, plus an extra one filled with snacks and drinks and hit the road for the North Shore of Oahu to our favorite getaway destination, Turtle Bay Resort.
It has become a tradition for us to celebrate together in this beautiful vacation spot. Before we were married, he was deployed in Iraq from 2004-2006. He came to Hawaii to spend a week of his R & R leave with me at this very place. We have come back every year since that romantic week in 2005.
It was just as romantic this year. What I love about the Turtle Bay Resort is that it really feels like being away on an outer island without the hassle or expense of getting on a plane or renting a car.
We only spent a few days on the North Shore, but it was enough to relax, disconnect from the demands of daily life and reconnect with each other. I consider that a great way to celebrate a holiday and a minor miracle in and of itself.
We enjoyed the secluded beaches to the North of the resort, walking for a few miles along the coastline, dipping our feet in the water, picking up sea glass and coral and embracing the sun and salt air.
Wednesday morning greeted us with a double rainbow right outside our hotel room window. Talk about a blessing.
Add to that some time for my husband to surf in the challenging waves that side of the island has to offer, while I embraced a relaxing moment in the jaccuzzi, then topping it all off with a dazzling and romantic sunset moment, I have to say that it made for a wonderful holiday celebration.
We returned to Kapolei relaxed and refreshed and began to gather our children back at home for a family Chanukkah weekend (and a few presents.)
Tonight we will join some of the local Jewish community at Pearl Harbor’s Aloha Jewish Chapel for Erev Shabbat and Chanukkah services, latkes and song. Others will celebrate at Honolulu’s Temple Emanu-El, but we can’t be at two places at once tonight.
Chag Sameach to you and your family and may it’s light and miracles brighten each of our lives on this 4th night of Chanukkah.