Our First Hanukkah


I don’t talk a lot about religion on this blog because I feel like it’s a pretty personal thing to bring up. Faith is intensely divisive and if someone doesn’t understand what you believe or agree that your beliefs are valid…well, that’s an uncomfortable conversation right there. Growing up in Salt Lake City, I learned that it’s usually a good idea to just let all of that hang out in the background most of the time.

Of course, Kyle and I have faith and we had Eva baptized because we want her to have options for her faith in the future. We made a joint decision, however, not to limit her options to those things that we’re already familiar with or things that we believe in. So, on the off chance that her path takes her to Judaism, we celebrated our first Hanukkah last night.



Celebrating Hanukkah does feel a little bit odd when there isn’t a Jewish person attending the celebration. I admit that I YouTube-d how to light the menorah and then I had to send out a last minute Facebook blast because I couldn’t figure out the timing of when the lighting should occur. We also had a meal that was in spirit with the occasion, but only about half of the food was Kosher because the local grocery store had a less than impressive selection. It turns out it’s probably a little tricky to celebrate Jewish holidays in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In fact, I hit a stumbling block weeks ago when I tried to buy a beautiful menorah from Crate and Barrel. They just opened a store here in Salt Lake, so I was lazy about ordering the menorah I wanted online. Finally, about a week and a half ago, I braved the holiday crowds and hit the mall only to find out that the SLC Crate and Barrel was stocking one less-than-lovely menorah. I searched the store but couldn’t find the one I wanted so I tracked down a sales clerk. This happened:

Me: Hi, do you have any other menorahs?
Sales Clerk: No, I’m sorry, we only have the Hanukkah menorahs.


Well damn, lady, I wanted the one in the shape of a Christmas tree.

The worst part about the story is that it was too late to get the one I wanted and the only place I could find a menorah in town was at Target where I spent too much money on the world’s most cookie-cutter menorah as I simultaneously shopped for the breakfast-for-dinner Christmas party I was throwing the next day. Yep, I bought a menorah, menorah candles, and a large package of bacon.

Oh well. The menorah I didn’t want still looks quite lovely with the lit candles.



We skipped the prayers in Hebrew and some of the more traditional elements. I was on the fence about including them, but something felt wrong about going through the motions of prayers that aren’t part of my faith. I might at least recite the English versions as Eva gets older, because the words are meaningful. We can’t celebrate Hanukkah in a traditional way because we aren’t Jewish, but we can still tell the story of the miracle and recognize a religion that has so much history. We really want her to understand that it’s a holiday about renewing faith and believing even when it seems impossible. No matter what she ends up believing, that’s a pretty nice thing to celebrate for eight days.

Happy Hanukkah!

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  • Reply samantha

    I think this is just wonderful sharing other religions and faiths with eva. We have similar beliefs as far as religion. We just had our first baby born, and i think its a great idea. We just might have to steal your idea!

    December 21, 2011 at 11:01 am
  • Reply Jones Family


    December 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm
  • Reply Jensey!

    Love this, Carly! I'm 1/2 Jewish myself, and growing up in the Bible belt, I feel your pain about finding anything Hanukkah related in stores. I went to Target in Knoxville and asked a cast member where their menorahs were 10 years ago, and he looked at me like I had a 3rd eye. My Mom gifted me our family menorah this year- She got it at the Disney Store where she worked 20 years ago. I wish they'd come out with another. 🙂

    December 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm
  • Reply Hope at Disneyland

    I love how Jensey called someone that worked at Target a "castmember". lol

    I think it's lovely how you and Kyle are exposing Eva to different faiths. At their core, they're all about having faith and spreading love and understanding. What a lucky little gal to have 8 days of gifts AND Christmas to look forward to! 🙂

    Also, that Crate and Barrel story had me laughing. Maybe next year they'll stock the reindeer antler looking ones for people that AREN'T looking for the Jewish ones. lol *shakes head*

    December 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm
  • Reply Eve

    It warms my heart that you're helping Eva get a taste of many religions from the get-go. I was raised Jewish-you did a great job!!!! We will celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah in our home with our kids. Thanks for creating fun experiences for your child through your willingness to be open-minded about religion. Chag Sameah (loosely translated to " happy holiday/joyous festival")!!!!

    Eve in CO

    December 22, 2011 at 3:16 am
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