Holiday Of Lights

21 Dec

It’s a little ironic that Chanukah started as a holiday celebrating getting rid of foreign ideas, because in my mind, Chanukah is Christmas for Jews. Wait- that’s a little too cynical. Let me explain. I’m not Conservative or Reform. I was raised Yeshivish and still practice that way. It’s just that the two holidays are so tightly knit together in my mind, I can’t make them apart.

I love snow on Chanukah, I love getting presents, singing Maoz Tzur, eating latkas, playing dreidel with the kids, eating chocolate coins, and lighting the menorah. I also love Christmas lights, Christmas songs, going to 5th Ave, seeing Christmas displays, Christmas movies, coke with Santa on it, Christmas carolers at the mall, and hot chocolate. It’s what I grew up with. These are things that I have nice memories of doing as a kid. These are all part of me. There’s no separation in my subconscious or wherever of one holiday or the other. It’s hard to explain, but I think that if I went to Israel and didn’t see all the Christmas lights and music, I wouldn’t feel like it was Chanukah. I’m Jewish and American, and I don’t feel guilty about it. Well, at least anymore.

Long ago (back in the days of 2010), I did. Especially when I heard stories about my grandparents seeing Christmas trees in the old country and shuddering or closing their eyes. But you know what? I didn’t grow up in that hell-hole, thank God. I grew up in a place where the dominant religious group is nice to me this time of year. Where they go out of their way to include everybody in their most kick-ass, beautiful holiday- even if it means exorcizing all traces of their deity out of the picture.

So yeah, I might be leaving out the fact that the road here was paved by Capitalism and Constitutional Lawsuits. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. I’m safe and happy and love whatever mash-up holiday it is that my brain created. Roll the beautiful Christmas tree and play the zeeseh Chanukah music:

(Skip to 17 seconds. It’s not Shmuel Kunda, but it’s the best I can do ;))

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6 Responses to “Holiday Of Lights”

  1. tesyaa December 21, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Even though I’m not personally so into Christmas, I love this post, especially the part about not growing up in the old country. Thank you, it’s so true.

    As for me, no more guilt about participating in the office gift exchange…

  2. Gutman Braun December 21, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Amen, itchemeyer. A man after my own heart, you are!

    My father would always tell me not to look at the Christmas lights, to cross the street (spitting optional) whenever passing a church, to avoid malls (and therefore, the “holiday music”) during the season, etc. I used to tell him that I don’t get what freaks him out about it all so, and he’d tell the tales of beatings he received from those neighborhood Irish Catholics from his youth.
    Thankfully, I’d respond, those days have – for the most part – passed. My America doesn’t care all that much about such things as who killed Christ, and we’ve moved on to a softer and nicer version of cultural religion… Im-yirtze-Hashem bei untz.

    • itchemeyer December 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

      ;D yeah. My grandfather still talks about the “italiyenas”. Happy chanukah!

  3. Dan December 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    I study in starbucks a lot, and I love the X-mas songs. I even listened to a couple of them on youtube the other day.

    • itchemeyer December 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      Right? They’re awesome. Feliz navidad.

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