In a year that has seen dark days, it’s wonderful to welcome the light. A new colleague at 92Y, Rabbi Scott Perlo, reminded me that no matter what religion we follow, the holiday season is all about light. Whether your family’s tradition involves lighting Chanukah candles, trimming a Christmas tree, the seven candles of the kinara or a blending of those, light is at the center of our celebrations. These rituals play a key role in our holiday traditions, and in some form, they have for thousands of years. But it’s what light represents to us that resonates most: Light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, light as truth, as openness, as hope.
Rabbi Perlo talks about light as being something for others, not only for ourselves. We place the menorah in a window to remind those outside our home of the miracle. We gather in the glow of a Christmas tree to sing carols—with others. And beyond their spiritual foundations, the holidays have always been about community—sharing together, rejoicing together, opening our arms wider.
These days offer a rich opportunity for talking with our children (“enlightening” them, in fact) about the values of the season, and you can do so in many ways—even while you bake cookies together to give to people in the community (the kind helpers in your child’s world). And I encourage you, even at this busy time, to take advantage of the many wonderful books available about the season’s celebrations and make time each night to read with your children. This quiet, reflective time will enrich their experience of the holiday and help then connect with the traditions of others. Because the wider we open our arms, the wider our children will open theirs.
I wish you all a bright and joyful holiday season!
Director of 92Y’s Parenting Center and Grandparents Center, Sally Tannen has been supporting parents of young children, building community, and creating and offering activities and classes for babies, kids, parents and grandparents for thousands of NYC families for more than 25 years. A mother of four and grandmother of three, Sally’s personal experience continues to enrich and inform her work. To learn more about the 92Y, visit 92y.org!