Monday, January 02, 2006

Learning From Past Mistakes - Chanukah Presents

Whereas in past years my wife and I gave presents out to our children after lighting the menorah, this year we decided against continuing this practice after last year's experience.

In order to prevent lighting the menorah from becoming a rushed formality before the "main event", we gave out presents during the day, long before sunset, so they would not automatically associate lighting the menorah with getting something. This tactic worked wonderfully and now the kids enjoy watching the menorah being lit without any other expectations.


At January 2, 2006 at 9:02:00 AM EST, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Great tactic, I know a few peple who could benefitusing this system, I hope it's not patented.

At January 2, 2006 at 3:10:00 PM EST, Blogger Akiva said...

Specifically to differenciate ourselves from the surrounding culture, as well as upholding our own rich tradition, further never having a problem with missed expectations (aka a wrong or unappreciated present), and enabling tzedakah, we give exclusively gelt.

A few dollars every night (per child), double on the 5th night (see here for why the 5th night). On the 5th and 8th nights, we have them give maaser on their collected gelt.

After chanukah, we take a trip to pick out what interests them (though along the way they may see something in the store and buy it with their gelt).

This works well with extended family as well, with select members sending something for the kids. If it's a large amount, we'll divide it and give a bit out each night, if it's a small amount we'll save it for a single night.

For the younger kids, we label an envelope (which we hang on to for them after gelt-giving time) as well as the bills themselves (with initials, there always gets to be a little money mix-up).

There's good lessons in there in all directions (this year one of my son's (8 year old) had a tremendous urge to give most of his gelt as tzedakah).

At January 2, 2006 at 3:51:00 PM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

A very wise plan, ASJ - Your kids get to experience the beauty of chanukah and not confuse it with present-giving. I wish more people would follow this practice...

At January 2, 2006 at 5:12:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ: That is a very good idea – you are definitely one heck of a problem solver.!

And Akiva: You make some quite valid points.

If I remember correctly, the whole concept of Channuka gelt, is about Tzedaka (chanukas beis hamikdosh...).

Channuka “gift giving” is taken from our non-Jewish neighbors – only Chanuka gelt is an authentic Jewish custom.
We give our kids candy and/or doughnuts in the evenings. And on the fifth night we give exclusively money to the older children (above 8); but we do give toys, in lieu of Channuka gelt, to the younger children (below 8) - who can't appreciate or have a use for the money…

At January 2, 2006 at 6:06:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Pragmatician, Zion Report, MCAryeh, Akiva, and Chabakuk Elisha: Thanks for all the great feedback!! The idea of only giving gelt is indeed a good one, however this wouldn't stop the kids from getting presents from other anyway you look at it, we have to find a way to deal with this "problem",


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