gifts · holiday · writing

My Latest Writing Project: A Blessing

We celebrated the first of eight nights of Chanukah this past Tuesday evening. On the left: A menorah my husband & I received as a wedding gift. On the right: A menorah I painted in honor of Isabelle's first Chanukah.

Yesterday I read an incredible blog post by Edgar M. Bronfman in The Washington Post‘s “On Faith” section.  I believe Bronfman’s article, “Create a holy Hanukkah,” was penned with the sole purpose to encourage North American Jews to think more deeply about the gifts we choose to give our children on Chanukah.  Rather than summarize what he said, I will excerpt the essence of his charge for you:

This Hanukkah, instead of the traditional gelt, take your Judaism into your own hands and write a blessing for each child; pick a special night for each during the eight day period of candle lighting. Tell them why you are grateful for them in your life and what your dreams are for them. It will be one of the greatest gifts they ever get, and one of the greatest you will ever give.

Many children might still prefer gelt at the moment, but this is an opportunity for you to give something greater: a moment to connect them to yourself, your family, and the Jewish people. By enacting Jewish values that place the home and the written word as being of the highest value, it will instill in them Jewish pride and a feeling of being safe, loved and treasured. It is also a gift no one else can give to them. We can substitute possessions, but not family or love. That is an important lesson to remember in all traditions, and year round (Retrieved on 12/21/11 through The Washington Post’s Social Reader).

As soon as I read these paragraphs I knew exactly what I had to do.  I had to write Isabelle a special blessing as her Chanukah gift*.  Bronfman suggested “if you decide to write a blessing, it can be an opportunity to educate yourself about the Jewish figures in history you most admire and to teach your children and yourself about who these people are.”  I got to work immediately, researching a variety of Jewish matriarchs (e.g., Hannah, Miriam, and Penina) on the internet with the hope I’d find inspiration for the blessing I wanted to write for her.  However, matriarch after matriarch, I found myself devoid of inspiration.  I put my research aside for awhile and began to think about what it was I wanted to say to her.  I thought the hopes and dreams I have for my daughter.  I thought that instead of focusing on the quality of a particular matriarch I wanted to compare her to, perhaps I could focus on the wishes I have for Isabelle so that I could write her a blessing.

I quickly found that writing a blessing is not so simple.  In fact, it’s hard work.  It’s a genre I don’t have any experience with and one I feel ill-equipped to write.  However, I know it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Rather, it has to come from the heart.

I realize most of the people reading this blog post are not Jewish and therefore do not celebrate Chanukah.  However, I think Bronfman’s article can be inspirational for those who celebrate Christmas too.  In this age of over-consumption and 24/7 connectedness, writing a blessing for someone you love is something that can hold greater meaning and value than a cozy sweater or a box of Belgian chocolates.  Writing a blessing shows your care and concern for the other person.  It takes time to craft just the right words.  To write a blessing is to give someone a gift unlike any other.  It’s much harder to write a blessing than to buy a gift at the local department store.  However, writing down your words as a prayer for a special person in your life, to me, seems like one of the most wonderful gifts you can ever gift, even if it isn’t fully appreciated (i.e., by your child) at this moment in time.

*=My daughter isn’t even one year old yet, so my husband and I decided not to give her Chanukah presents this year.

5 thoughts on “My Latest Writing Project: A Blessing

  1. Pingback: Inspired Vision
  2. @Cindy: Thanks for sharing the back story of your husband’s family with me. It means so much to me that my blog posts were able to spark some conversations. Happy holidays, Stacey


  3. Stacey, this post (along with your other recent posts) has been tucked away in my mind all day. My father-in-law is Jewish. My mother-in-law was Catholic. So, my husband was raised with a mix of traditions from each side, but no strict dedication to either, no strong understanding of what it means to live by either. I realized that by letting us in on these glimpses of your faith, you have really opened my eyes and my heart to what it looks like to be Jewish in today’s world. You have sparked conversations in my household and certainly deepened my appreciation for this aspect of my husband’s family. Thank you.


  4. It’s a beautiful idea, Stacey, and I love the way you talked about your own thoughts as you researched for Isabelle’s blessing. At Thanksgiving, we do something like this, go around the table & tell others why we are thankful for them. I have not thought about this idea for Christmas, but this year, with the gifts, I am giving each a quote for the coming year, kind of like giving words to help them on their way. Thank you for telling about this. Christmas to me is definitely more about making meaning than just wrapping up another present.


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