Tonight is the last night of Chanukah and I’m loving the sweet way Tuvia and I celebrate this festival of lights every night, in fact, tomorrow night I’m going to miss our routine. Simple and sweet. I say the prayers and light our menorahs. Tuvia’s small one came with him from Israel 40 years ago. Mine, more grand and newer has a much shorter history behind it, just my love of good crafts from a funky shop in Nyack, but we both love it.
As adults, I no longer envy those who celebrate Christmas. I’m confessing my secret fantasy- as a kid, even though my parents worked hard to provide us with a meaningful alternative, there was nothing they could do to compete with the Christmas fantasy that dominated the air waves, the shops(no malls yet) schools, everywhere, it seemed.
Yes, my parents made Chanukah a great holiday event. We loved our 8 nights of candle lighting, eating potato pancakes that my dad created more successfully than my mom, and we appreciated our 8 gifts- the grandest arriving on the last night when the menorah was in full flame 🙂
But remember the Folger Christmas commercial where the young son sneaks into his family’s house early in the morning and announces his return home with the sounds of coffee brewing, set in warm lights with the tree not far and his younger brother finds him first? Well that’s the fantasy I bought and maybe that was my introduction to being a Jew in a Christian world.
Of course, that was a mild introduction. Sadly, the lessons that come later include the dark period of the Holocaust and other episodes of intolerance. My 5th grade teacher couldn’t understand why she couldn’t bring her replica of the manger into our classroom and why I insisted on writing god- G_d. Her answer to me was “You’re not in Israel anymore.”
And now as an adult I love it all. Chanukah for us and Christmas without the religious piece. I love shopping at the mall, mostly for gifts for me. I love the lights everywhere, I love non-religious music, I love the hope that the fantasies I bought into as a kid are real for everyone- love of family and friends with time to reflect, refresh and embrace a bit of silence after the breakneck pace it takes most people to get their finish lines.
I am just about ready to begin my own annual race to the finish line as your images and captions are arriving now in my email box, adding your voices to my community wrap up for 2014. Keep them coming friends,there’s still time.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for publication: midnight January 1, 2015!!!!!