Monday, November 29, 2010
Have yourself a merry little...Wednesday night
I may have mentioned it, but until I was 20 years old, I was in exactly one house with a Christmas tree.
Yes, digest that for a moment while the Klezmer band gets warmed up.
In the parallel universe that was my little shtetl, I mean suburb of Cleveland, I had heard about Christmas but only really had one friend who celebrated the holiday (that would be Dawn, the very gorgeous black dentist's daughter in my class).
Out there in the rest of the world, I imagine it was the flip-side, as in "I have heard of Jews, but don't really know any Jews (except for Dawn, the very gorgeous daughter of Jewish doctor Bernstein. She is in my class.)."
Jews have Hanukkah. And let me tell you, Hanukkah is not Christmas. Not by a longshot.
A few simple reasons:
Who can remember when it is?
You know when Christmas is - Dec. 25. Every year. The whole world shuts down for about a week. Your office is closed. There is no school. You can plan a big vacation around it.
Hanukkah moves around the calendar, often starting on a random weekday. Sometimes it is nearly as far from Christmas on the calendar as Thanksgiving. For instance, this year Hannukah starts on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Have you done your shopping yet? Planned a big vacation? Me either. In fact, we still have to take the recycling to the curb that night.
There is no mascot
You can't compete with Santa. Don't try, because there is nothing that cute about Hannukah, which technically celebrates the miracle of oil in a lamp lasting eight days. So a Maccabean soldier in sandals? Could be sexy, but not cute for little ones. A menorah? Please. Jewish star? Too Jew-y. There is been a fair stab at Hanukkah Harry, but he never caught on.
There are no decorations. Or clothes.
See that Pottery Barn catalogue over there? With the ribbon and the angels and the pillows that say "Silent Night" and the little stuffed reindeer ornaments and the basket of pine cones? Yeah. that one. It is but one example of how fabulous your home would look - if you only celebrated Christmas.
There really are no Hanukkah decorations. Yes, one could buy a string of letters that spell out "HAPPY HANUKKAH" and tape them up over the mantle. We have a menorah. It is a nice one. But it is but one candleabra. I am not about to build a tree out of them.
Same goes for clothes. Christmas is for kitchy - ornament earrings, a sweater with a reindeer, what have you. Good luck finding a Hanukkah sweatshirt. Even if you did (I am thinking blue, with a full-blazing menorah with sequins flames), your officemates would take a step back and say "I don't get it."
So what do we have? Gambling and fried food. It is sort of like Atlantic City. Dreidel is essentially a dice game with chocolate coins. Hanukkah is also a holiday that mandates the eating foods fried in oil.
So bring on the doughnuts. Tie them up in a handcrafted little monogrammed bag surrounded by candy canes and decorated with little Santa stickers. And bring one for Dawn, too.