Although it’s certainly more tradition than mandate, we give our children a gift each night during Hanukah. I’m a good Jewish mom, so some of the gifts are pretty practical, like a shirt or a book or other things that don’t cost an arm and a leg and aren’t found in the latest Toys ‘R Us catalog.
But each kid usually has a night or two of really awesome things they want.
Several years ago, I started a family tradition to remind them that everyone is not so lucky. We choose one night of the eight-day season where the children don’t receive a gift. Instead, we choose other children to receive something they want or need. Usually it’s at a local mall or something, where we select children from a “giving tree” that are close to the boys’ ages, and go buy them the requested gift.
This year, there is a giving tree in our company cafeteria. Out of curiosity, I checked out the requests, thinking I would bring the boys by to select someone. There were a few that didn’t surprise me. Cheri wanted the Hannah Montana video game. Jose wanted a remote control racecar.
Then I saw Joanna’s request. She’s 10 – she just wanted a jacket.
I started to tear up. Remembering why we have this tradition. What kid wants a jacket for the holidays?
A kid for whom something as simple as a jacket – as simple as warmth – is not a given.
May my children someday realize they are lucky enough that a jacket does not need to be high on their list of “needs”, much less “wants” . . . and may we all remember as the holidays approach that there is more than one Joanna out there who “wants” what the rest of us consider a basic necessity.