User post: How I made Chanukah exciting for my kids

The month of December can be very difficult for Jewish children in the United States. Most of the country is gearing up for Christmas and reminders of it are everywhere - shopping, music, television, decorations - you can't escape it. As an adult, I've become immune to it, but for children, it is hard not to feel left out.

Chanukuh is celebrated for eight days, therefore many families give eight days of gifts. When I was a child, my parents would take one gift a day out of the closet for me and one for my brother. Although we loved getting gifts, it lacked a certain holiday feel.

When my sons were young I decided to make the Chanukah gift giving more festive. I would pick a day, a few days before Chanukah, when my kids were at school and wrap all of the presents, including my husbands. I would make three piles of eight gifts each in front of the fireplace using different sheets of brightly colored wrapping paper. My kids would arrive home from school and see the piles and the excitement in the house was palpable. They would spend hours looking and feeling the boxes wondering what goodies were in store for them this year.

Each night of Chanukah, after dinner (on weekends, it sometimes became after breakfast) we gathered by the fireplace and each picked one of our gifts (by that time my husband had added a small pile for me). We each opened our gifts one at a time so we could watch each others expressions.

To this day, even though my sons are in their early twenties, we still do a modified version of our Chanukah tradition. Unfortunately, with Chanukah often falling early in December, and them coming home from school or vacation later in the month, we wind up celebrating all of the holiday in one day. However when I suggested skipping the wrapping paper and the piles, my husband and kids all screamed in unison: NO! That tradition will live on forever.

Jennifer Wagner writes the popular parenting blog Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology.