Happy Hanukkah from Here to Serve!

Kids Celebrating Hanukkah with Cancer in their familyDuring Hanukkah, many Jewish families look forward to lighting the menorah and celebrating with family traditions. The season can bring comfort and joy to those reveling in the festival of lights. But if your child is going through cancer treatment, it will drastically change how you and your family enjoy this memorable holiday. Added to this year’s holiday celebration is the continued threat of Covid-19. Many families are overwhelmed by stress, and there might be less time, energy, and financial resources available to celebrate. 

Hanukkah 2020 begins at nightfall on December 10th and concludes on the evening of December 18th. The eight-day celebration brings together extended family to take part in the rituals of lighting a candle each night at sundown, eating traditional foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyots (jelly-filled donuts). Many children will be spinning the dreidel and opening gifts. 

The word Hanukkah means dedication. The holiday celebrates the victory of a small group of Jewish patriots, the Maccabees, over the much larger Syrian army during the second century B.C. Hanukkah also commemorates the miracle of the lamp oil. At the time of the Maccabees victory, the reconstructed Second Temple in Jerusalem had only enough oil to light the menorah for one night, but the lamp remained lit for eight days. The story of this miracle has carried on throughout history. Today, the holiday is a reminder for Jewish people worldwide to keep this symbolic flame lit and pass down the Jewish religion and culture to the next generation.

At times, 2020 has brought moments of uncertainty and despair; celebrating the festival of lights takes on new significance. It is a chance to snuff out the darkness and celebrate with loved ones and rejoice in hope for better times. As the world faces challenges brought on by the pandemic, parents of children fighting cancer face even more obstacles. During the holidays, these challenges intensify. Still, it is important to remember that Hanukkah and other special occasions are meaningful to children and should be celebrated even if in a small way. It will help create a sense of optimism and stability when hospital visits and cancer treatments have become the new normal.

Celebrating Hanukkah in 2020

Modifications to holiday celebrations must be made if your child’s immune system is compromised by cancer and your family’s health is at risk for catching the coronavirus. Here are a few simple steps to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19:

  • Limit your celebration to your immediate household.
  • Celebrate with extended family and friends over FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.
  • Send surprise care packages to those you love. 
  • Stay positive and understand the sacrifices you make this year will help to have more in-person celebrations in the years to come.

This year’s Hanukkah celebration will undoubtedly be like no other, and families will make new memories. Hopefully, over time these temporary adjustments will bring fond remembrances of intimate family time together .

If time, energy, or financial burdens hinder your family’s ability to create a memorable Hanukkah, remember simple moments and actions can be more meaningful than plates of sufganiyots and spinning dreidels. Let your creativity come out and spend quality time with your family. Some easy and inexpensive craft ideas can go a long way in making your child happy and worry free. Decorate your home or child’s hospital room and bring in the light of the season.

  • Popsicle stick Hanukkah decorations – Popsicle sticks, which can be purchased in craft stores, colored markers, and white glue are all that is needed to create a menorah and dreidel, or other Hanukkah themed decoration.  
  • Handprint Menorah – Paper, along with blue and yellow washable paint, can make a menorah using your child’s hand and fingerprints. Dip hands into the blue paint and place one hand down on the paper, making sure to press down firmly with fingers spread apart; fingerprints will form the candles. Repeat with the other hand, and be sure the thumbs overlap each handprint. Add flames to each candle by adding yellow paint to fingertips and press down at the top of each candle.
  • Watercolor Dreidel Crafts – A simple, colorful craft using cardboard or poster board, a variety of watercolor paints, and brushes. The cardboard should have a non-gloss finish that can absorb watercolors. Cut out several dreidel shapes, and use them as a template to create more cut-outs. Come up with different color combinations or patterns. Go one step further and hang the dreidels as a mobile.

For more Hannukah craft and baking ideas visit, funfamilycrafts.com.

Whether your child is at home or in the hospital for this Hanukkah celebration, it is important to celebrate, even if the location is not ideal. At Here to Serve, we understand your quandary as this special holiday approaches, and we will do all we can to help you have the best holiday possible. 

All of us at Here to Serve wish you and your family a joyous Hanukkah, and we want you to know that we are available to ease your worries and help lower your stress and anxiety. Let us help you share laughs, love and create wonderful family memories. If you know a child recently diagnosed with cancer, please contact us, and our care coordinators will help fulfill your family’s needs. If you would like to donate to Here to Serve, please click on this secure link. We appreciate your continued support.

By Chris Smith