Chanukah is the holiday of standing up boldly for your beliefs, of not yielding an inch.
Chanukah commemorates the historical victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks. The Jewish rebellion started in the year 167 B.C.E., after a century of Greek cultural hegemony and increasing assimilation. In the village of Modiin, Greek forces commanded the Jews to make offerings to a pagan god. One submissive Jew complied. This so inflamed the elderly priest Mattathias that he sprang up, killed the servile Jew, and led his five sons and handful of followers into the hills for a protracted guerrilla war against the Greeks and their Hellenistic Jewish cohorts.
The message of Chanukah is: Hold onto your religious convictions, never submit to the assimilated majority, no matter how numerous or sophisticated they are, and fight for your ideals.
So which is the Jewish value: to yield or to resist?
The salient difference between the lights of Shabbat and the lights of Chanukah are their location. Shabbat candles are always lit inside the home. Chanukah candles should ideally be lit outside, by the entrance to the house. (This is how we still do it in Jerusalem.) Only when the Jews were exiled to the Diaspora did safety dictate moving the Chanukah lights inside, but even there they are to be kindled in a window where they can be seen from outside. The mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles is to publicize the miracle of the oil.
While the Shabbat candles illumine the private domain of the home, the Chanukah candles are a statement to the public domain.
Similarly, the place for yielding is in the home, within the family. The place for standing up for one's convictions is the public realm.
Unfortunately, we often reverse the two: A Jewish college student who is afraid to stand up to his politically correct friends and defend Israel refuses to yield to his mother's entreaties to wear a tie to his grandparents' anniversary party. A Jewish woman who sits mutely during coffee break while her co-workers joke about "cheap Jews," finds her tongue and waxes eloquent in her self-defense when her husband asks her to put the kids to bed on time.
The place to stand up for your beliefs is the public realm. In the home, yield, yield, yield.
If you are chronically tardy, and your spouse likes to arrive everywhere 15 minutes early, yield.
Ask yourself, "What is his/her reality?" and validate it. If you are a spendthrift and your spouse is frugal, yield. Ask yourself, "What is his/her reality?" and validate it. If your idea of a vacation is a five-star hotel, and your children want to vacation in the national parks, ask yourself, "What is their reality?" and validate it. Then decide what is best for the whole family.
But in the public realm, when Judaism, Jews, or Israel are under attack, stand up and fight! That's the lesson of Chanukah.
Just something to think about on the first night of chanukah.