Potato latkes, a traditional Hanukkah dish served with apple sauce or sour cream.

A personal reflection on Hanukkah

Latkes, lighting of the menorah and dreidels are usually what come to mind when thinking about Hanukkah.

However, there is more to this festival of lights. It’s about connecting. It’s about tradition. It’s about family.

And for those of you living in Scarborough that observe this holiday, this column is dedicated to you.

Growing up, Hanukkah was my favourite holiday — and not just because I got presents for eight days. I got to see family I did not see on a regular basis. And, of course, there was the delicious food.

Early on, my late grandmother would host Hanukkah dinner at her home. As the years passed, my mom and other family members began to take on the tradition of hosting the family dinner.

More recently, my brother and sister-in-law started hosting at their home and a new Hanukkah family tradition was born. Well, not entirely new.

One of the things my family and I do during the holiday is make latkes. Latkes are essentially potato pancakes ready to be topped with sour cream or apple sauce. They are delicious.

Yet there’s still much more to the holiday. Hanukkah is about giving back and performing good deeds, or mitzvahs.

From the age of 4, I have volunteered every year at the Jewish Child and Family Services’ annual Hanukkah party. It’s become a personal tradition of mine.

Every year I feel the holiday spirit in the air when I see how happy the families and kids are at the party.

My experience of Hanukkah certainly has changed over the years, but the one thing that will never change is how it brings families — not just mine — closer together and the lasting memories it creates.