luluwrites111

United States of America

Hi! Thanks for reading my writing! If you want to see some more, let me know!

Message from Writer

"What greater gift than the love of a cat." --Charles Dickens
AND
"May I write words more naked than flesh." --Sappho

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas

December 8, 2019

Christmas dawns bright and cold, perhaps a little frost on the car windows. Hanukkah lasts for eight mild nights, and we frequent the park under blue skies with white wisps. 

That year Hanukkah came before Christmas. While one (admittedly larger) side of relatives was putting up trees, stringing lights, and baking sugar cookies, my family was preparing for Hanukkah. The menorahs were removed from the freezer, last year's blue and white wax stubbornly clinging to worn gold and silver metal, the blackened insides of each branch begging to be cleaned out. One for each of us-- a tall, sleek, silver menorah for my little brother Dashiel, the newest of the bunch, although with several dents already. Mine was a modestly beautiful (at least I thought so) softened gold with ornate carvings and sturdy feet. My mothers, a strip of steel with a handle and holders all in a row, was the cleanest, and my father's (borrowed from my mother's side) was a teardrop shaped platform with the candle holders edging the outside. It was modeled after a lamp. 

Dashiel was softening the candles and sticking them into their spots, my dad was taking out the gelt and dreidels, and my mom was grating potatoes in the kitchen to make latkes. I was choosing music. Party guests arrived. Almost none of them were Jewish, but everyone participated in spinning the dreidels, eating the chocolate coins, frying the latkes, and especially slathering them with jam and sour cream. I wasn't even sure if I was Jewish. My father had been raised catholic along with his four brothers, but gave up the church in college because he didn't support some of the things they were doing. My mother was raised Jewish, but not strictly at all. Her father resented being forced to go to the synagogue and to learn Hebrew, so he never forced my mother to do anything. Now, my family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, and it never struck me as important to really believe in religion until now. I wondered if I believed anything at all. Was I an atheist? Agnostic? 

Now every time December rolled around, these questions appeared in my mind. At Christmas Eve, when my extended family sat down to a fancy, long, delicious dinner, and everyone clasped hands to say a prayer, I looked down and moved my mouth silently. It was an awkward thirty seconds. Everyone would make the sign of the cross and I would look around furtively. Whenever a Hanukkah song came on, I would know the tune and the sounds of the words, but never what they meant. I knew the basic, 'oil lasts for eight days instead of one, a miracle' story, but never understood the religious significance. We only ever celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas, never Passover or other Jewish holidays.

Younger me decided she liked the presents and cookies of Christmas, but the food and stories were better with Hanukkah. That was a simple and logical way to put it, at least. Now, I don't know what I want to be, or who I want to pray to (if I even want to pray at all). But I do know that I love spending time with my family, eating good food, smelling the needles of the pine trees, and gazing at the light of the nine candles on the mantelpiece. Now, when the first night of Hanukkah and the first day of the advent calendar appears, I'll hang ornaments and spin dreidels. Amen

Print

See History

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

2 Comments
  • luluwrites111

    @parachutes_the_idiot to make the wax easier to get off and they clean up better


    about 1 month ago
  • parachutes_the_idiot

    Wait, why do you keep your menorahs in the freezer???????


    about 1 month ago