as we approach hanukkah 2009 (which begins sundown december 11), i was going back through my daughter’s first hanukkah experiences. while she was in preschool at malibu jewish center, she created a popsicle stick star of david, which still annually adorns our holiday tree. i was also running back through photos of her first ever pageant of any kind, which was a hanukkah celebration at temple etz chaim, where she went while in kindergarten. she made a hanukkah menorah hat, which she proudly wore during the recital. my ‘little girl‘ is growing up.
it is interesting to notice that while children ultimately reach an age where they begin to distinguish between things that are cool and not cool, and begin to discern between things that are now ‘childish’ and items that are more befitting their present age, that things they created as children within the contexts of traditions – especially holiday traditions – never become ‘uncool.’ these photos, however embarrassing, and these decorations, however messy, were their first creations – their first attempts at representing via symbol their view of the world as shaped by their parents and their environment. kids recognize, even at a very early age, the difference between fashion trends that come and go and toys out of which they grow, and things they created as children to commemorate the holiday seasons, which are actually commemorations of the years of their lives. just like their birthdays, goofy decorations, mugs, coasters, and picture frames that children bring home as gifts every year are holiday memories that children (and adults for that matter) rely on as mileposts in the paths of their lives.
thus, it is important to allow children to create their own memories. and we should encourage this by always placing the popsicle stick star of david on the top of the tree.