On The First Night of Hanukkah…

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah and it was also the first time I’ve done my parental duty of buying and wrapping presents. I know my Mother of the Year medal should be taken away immediately for not doing the gifting thing for my own daughter, but I felt that during her first two Hanukkahs, she a) didn’t really need anything and was still digesting goodies from her birthdays only four months before, and b) also didn’t “get it.” The whole routine of lighting candles when the sun goes down and opening a present for eight consecutive nights was beyond her ability to appreciate the entire holiday. We lit candles and she was mesmerized by the flame and of course we celebrated with our extended families on one or two nights of the eight, but our nuclear version of Hanukkah was minimized to candles and a few decorations around the house.

Princeton has always understood and appreciated Pawnukkah.

Princeton has always understood and appreciated Pawnukkah.

Well not this year! Hanukkah came back to the Friedman house. Perhaps it was the joy in celebrating in a homey-home with more space and things to decorate. And perhaps we could see that Madelyn finally reached an age where she gets excited about presents and family time. And she also has awareness for commercial products, so it would be fun to give her the gift of Minnie and Ariel and Kitty and other friends — you know, because the real purpose of Hanukkah is to buy into what Target puts on its shelves. Oh, ‘Murica. But what can I say? I am a sucker for seeing joy in my child’s face, and if it means a handful-and-a-half of colorful, pop culture-related presents in December November and December, then I’m all for it.

The Many Faces of Hanukkah Madelyn

The Many Faces of Hanukkah Madelyn

Madelyn has also been learning the dreidel song at her preschool class. It’s amazing how going to a class once a week can sink into our little sponge. She sees the dreidels around the house and sings the song. She even requests singing it with her Daddy at the keyboard.

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah and I was so excited to do with her what I remember my parents doing with me! We ate dinner… except it was far from traditional. I knew we’d be doing the latkes and the whole shebang in a few days, so I made chicken stir fry. Hey, if we eat Chinese food on Christmas, why can’t we do it on Hanukkah?

We set up the candles on the menorah and then as we were about to turn off the lights and gather Madelyn for the prayer, we realized we both had mushy brains and couldn’t remember the melody! Thanks to Rabbi Google, we got back on track, and took turns bringing Madelyn to the menorah as we lit the candles. She was totally into it, and Bryan and I were huge puddles of pride.

As we held her together, she took one last look at the candles, looked back at us, pursed her lips, and began to blow. The last time she was so close to fire, it was her birthday. The innocence of children during the holidays is deliciously cute.




Thankfully, all the candles stayed lit. Having enough oil for eight days? Miracle shmiracle. It’s all about the resistance of a toddler’s blow.

Then we told Madelyn she could pick out one present from the bunch. She stood in front of her choices, put her finger to her chin and went “Hmmmm… Let’s see….” and I quietly giggled over the important life decision in front of her that I so totally remember from my own childhood: Which present to open tonight.

Eeny meeny miney mo!

Eeny meeny miney mo!

With no method to her madness, she picked a funny looking present — the one that was hardest for me to wrap — and ripped in. It was an assortment of little toys I picked up in the “stocking stuffer” aisle of Target, actually. A bunch of little Disney things: an Ariel light-up toy, a small Ariel figurine, a Minnie Mouse AND Disney Princess camera, and a Disney Princess soft ball to throw around the house. Kids are so funny when they open presents. Instead of taking each one out to see what’s next, she’d take out one item and begin to play with it, not caring that there was more to see inside. We had to keep reminding her that there was more!



I think her favorite from the lot are her two little cameras. She pushes the button, it makes a shutter sound, and then it displays a picture of a princess or Minnie Mouse. It’s like a modern day ViewMaster, remember those? She thinks she’s taking actual pictures, though, and she tells us to pose, puts the camera up in the air — the way she sees us snapping away at her with our iPhones — and then puts the camera to her cheek to hear the shutter click. It’s the worst shooting technique I’ve ever seen, but it’s adorable and it totally makes sense. To her. Who knows? Maybe this silly little Hanukkah toy from 2013 will inspire her future career as a photographer?




There are seven nights left, including a few family get togethers in the mix, and I can’t wait to see what delights her each night. I hope we are creating special memories and traditions for Madelyn that she’ll remember with joy when she is an adult. And I really hope Costco still carries Yoshidas because it’s the best thing for stir fry ever.