Focusing on 'less is more'

Published12/16/2007 10:38 PM

Gifts and gift ideas are everywhere at this time of year. The recurrence of my cancer has helped me focus on "less is more" in the gift-giving tradition of the minor Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which celebrates miracles and ended last week.

As kids, my cousins and I were thrilled when our grandparents handed us a few coins, also known as Hanukkah "gelt."


Some gifts, of course, are special. My favorites are long phone calls to and from my kids, who live out of state. They are always in a quandary about what to send me that's more concrete.

One, knowing my love for artisan-silver jewelry, sent a great pair of earrings. The other decided I had enough "stuff." She bought three trees to be planted by the Jewish National Fund in Northern Israel, to reforest areas that have been destroyed by rockets.

Some of those trees had been purchased by my family when the modern state of Israel was declared in 1948.

Each of the new trees will have my name and the name of one of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust.

I buy foil-covered dark chocolate "gelt" coins to share with my friends. And I get a kick out of buying a few things for me, since this is the time of year when stores are chock-full of irresistible treasures.

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Among my favorites were some things to deal with the side effects of cancer and its treatments. At a Relax the Back store in Lincolnshire, I found the pillow of my dreams and a couple of items to relieve tightness in the back and shoulders.

While roaming around Northbrook Court on a quest for some cabochon amethysts, I stumbled on a kiosk where three young Israelis were selling Kabbalistic goodies.

I wear a red string woven through a silver link bracelet. Some believe the red string is a "spiritual" addition to conventional treatments. Now, I have a new pink string bracelet, and its healing silver charm with three Hebrew letters. A portion of the proceeds from all their pink items goes to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

It all added up to a fine Hanukkah, one that will continue to live long after the lights on the menorah were extinguished.

And, the greatest miracle gift will be a permanent cure for cancer.

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