Saturday, December 1, 2012


The Hanukkah Fairy

We all know of the famous Christmas tale that begins, “Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus.”  Well, my story takes somewhat of a different spin.  You see, five years ago, I finally had to say to my then 10-year old daughter, “No, Melissa, there really isn’t a Hanukkah Fairy.”

It all began when my baby girl (now a teenager) still enjoyed the innocence of kindergarten.  As December approached, her classmates chattered endlessly with anticipation, wondering aloud what wonderful presents they would find under their tree Christmas morning, courtesy of their hero, the one and only Santa Claus.  From the perspective of a five year old, not getting a present from Santa just seemed so unfair.  It didn’t matter that her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, sister Jessica, and of course, my husband Bob and I showered her with presents for the eight days of Hanukkah.  As one of only a few Jewish children in her class, all that she knew was that her gifts did not come from Santa, and that, in her young mind, made her feel terribly left out.

Sooooo…in a “crazed mom” effort to ease my daughter’s pain….I sort of made up a teensy weensy little lie.   I told her she should feel lucky, because the Jewish people had the Hanukkah Fairy. 

Ok, I admit, I am not proud of my deception to my five-year old.  However, when her big brown eyes lit up, and her frown faded away, I simply had to perpetuate the myth.  What I didn’t count on were all of the questions.   “Where does the Hanukkah Fairy live?”  (At the mall.)  “How does she know what I want for Hanukkah?”  (I tell her when I go shopping, and she picks out the presents and gives them to me) 

The hardest questions were targeted to my husband, who desperately struggled to elaborate on a lie he didn’t invent! 

“Daddy, is the Hanukkah Fairy real?” she asked during a quiet moment when the two shared a car ride alone. 

“Uh, well, hmmm,” came his eloquent response, as he wiped the sweat off his forehead and secretly cursed me under his breath.   “The Hanukkah Fairy is real if you believe it’s real.”

The holiday came and went, and thanks to the Hanukkah Fairy, Melissa finally felt just as special as her friends who received gifts from Santa.

When the holiday season approached the following year, I naively thought my little girl would forget about the Hanukkah Fairy.  Alas, t’was not meant to be.  As Hanukkah inched closer, not only did Melissa wonder aloud about the many presents the Hanukkah Fairy would bring, but she told all of her friends about it, who in turn told their parents, who in turn asked me about this totally unfamiliar Hanukkah tradition.  I had to whisper out of earshot of my daughter and explain to my Jewish and Christian friends alike how and why I invented Melissa’s new-found favorite fairy.

As Melissa got older, Bob and I tried very hard to help her understand that, even though we celebrated a different holiday, we shared with everyone the spirit of faith and goodwill that for me, is the best part of the holiday season.  Each year, we would “adopt” a less fortunate family, and Melissa took delight in wheeling the shopping cart through the toy store, helping to pick out gifts for the kids.  On Christmas day, Melissa made cards out of construction paper and we delivered them to patients in the local hospital where I worked at the time.

We also tried to help her understand the story of Hanukkah.  It takes place in ancient times, when the Syrians attacked the Jews, trying to force them to give up their faith.  Although horribly outnumbered, the Jews won the battle, but their Temple was destroyed.  However, amid the devastation, they found enough oil to burn in a lamp for only one day.  Yet, miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, and that is why we light a candle for each of the holiday’s eight days.  Hanukkah pays homage to everyone who has fought for the right to worship as they please, to celebrate their heritage, to share their own traditions with their children, and to be proud of who they are.  In short, Hanukkah celebrates freedom!

Today, at 16, Melissa has long since put aside the notion that presents arrive thanks to magical beings carrying baskets full of Barbie dolls and Disney princesses.  While she still gratefully appreciates the numerous American Eagle gift cards she is sure to receive this holiday season, for my teen, the holidays have evolved into something much more than an excuse to exchange presents.  It is an opportunity to help me create a festive holiday dinner, to appreciate the memorable traditions that connect us to past generations, and to relish in the love of dear friends and family, both near and far.

Happy holidays to you from The Weinstein family…and The Hanukkah Fairy!

I love getting feedback!  If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below!


16 comments:

  1. You know, when I was growing up one of my very best friends was Jewish and I always loved that they invited me into their home during the eight nights of Hannukah, taught me about the meaning of each night and showered their kids (and sometimes even me) with gifts but also played games, laughed, sang, and danced. They always struck me as having a little more fun than we did because though we have the pretty lights and Christmas music, at the end of the day, you open presents Christmas morning and you have dinner, of course, but the "fun" was over after the gifts were opened. I am sure my friend often felt like an outsider when it came to the other kids in the class but she never showed it to me. I suspect her mom may have made up the Hannukah fairy too!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story! I think the most important thing is to share special holidays with people that you love! Not matter what you celebrate!!

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  2. I love your posts each time I come to your blog! I love the way you celebrate Hanukkah!

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  3. How fun! One of my best friends is Jewish and our tradition is to celebrate Christmakkah with a big holiday breakfast on Christmas Eve morning. We play the dreidel game and keep a flashing menorah amongst our Christmas decorations. It is a wonderful and fun tradition! Just like Hannukah fairy! Its all about making it enjoyable for all of us, right?

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    1. It certainly is about having fun and being with people you love!

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  4. My dear friend, this was such a sweet story! And I didn't see it as a deceptive lie, I saw it as an act of love from a Mother to a daughter. And ya know what? I'd be surpriised if the Hanukkah Fairy didn't make a re-peat appearance some day with her own children!

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    1. Chris, as always, you are so sweet! One of the funniest things that I left out of the story is, we had bought a huge Elmo doll for my nephew, and Melissa came downstairs on Hanukkah morning and saw the Elmo doll and said, "The Hanukkah Fairy came and she brought me an Elmo doll!" Needless to say, my nephew never got the Elmo doll!

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  5. Ahh, Lisa, thanks for a special peek into the holiday window of the Weinstein family.

    With the obvious risk of sounding puerile, I'll admit that I, for one, think the Hanukkah Fairy exists. In my world, I've come to feel that what we imagine is more real than what we touch. Your Hanukkah Fairy was borne of a true and lasting love. What can be more real than that?

    If Hanukkah teaches anything it's light over darkness. My wish for you and your family is growing light.

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    1. Thank you so much Carl - all the best to you and your family as well!

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  6. My friend, we must do what we must do for our children. I´ve had my share of little lies... My kids were used to receiving their gifts from baby Jesus when most of their friends got them from Santa (at least both were the 25th...) Now that we live in Spain, the Three Wise Men are the ones that bring the gifts... and in jan 6th!!! Imagine what I´ve had to do ; )

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  7. Great story, Lisa! Thanks for sharing! :-)

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  8. Hi Lisa--
    Thanks for reading The Word Mavens --of course, I had to click to find out who the Hanukkah fairy was! Off the record, I have a family story about the year my mom gave my older cousin Bobby, a sack of wrapped Hanukkah gifts, made him put on a silver crown and shoved him out the front door, so he could ring the doorbell, two minutes later and enter our Hanukkah party as "Captain Hanukkah!"
    hahahah Happy New Year
    Ellen

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