When Child #1 was a baby I made the rookie parenting mistake of deciding to celebrate my husband's Jewish heritage with eight days of Hanukkah followed by Christmas. This wouldn't be so terrible if I had decided to tie the eight days of Hanukkah to say, doing kind deeds for others.
Instead (another rookie parenting move) I chose to train my children in the art of double dipping.
We have eight days of Hanukkah gifts, candles and the dreidel gambling game followed by the all-out gift bonanza that goes by the name of Christmas morning. I've tried to lower expectations on the Hanukkah front. My kids almost always get a Hanukkah toothbrush. This year its the kind that has flashing lights that don't turn off until you've brushed your teeth for a solid minute.
I know! Exciting Stuff! I might follow it up with new underwear or socks.
Even though we're sort of maxed out on holiday traditions I decided maybe we could squeeze in one more. The goal of this additional tradition is to help my kids understand the holidays aren't all about double dipping for gifts, cookie parties and rides on the Santa train.
In the past we've adopted families who need a little extra help to make it through the season. I've done the shopping and wrapping and the kids have signed the cards. This year I'm asking the kids to make a contribution from their own personal funds.
Because I like to pretend my family is a semi-democracy, I've given them a choice. They can contribute a set dollar amount or a percentage of the total amount spent.
The Hanukkah Mitzvah and being forced to apply math principles on a micro level; it's my favorite new win-win holiday tradition.