Hanukkah Matata

I’m a night owl. This tends to lead me toward employment that allows for later hours, like when I worked in an indie video that stayed open well after dark. After renting someone their Tinto Brass DVD that they were watching “for the commentary on the decline of the European civilization,” I would follow up the transaction with a friendly “have a good night!” It became habit, and one I couldn’t shake, even during the occasional morning shift. On the phone or in person, I’d end a conversation with “have a good night,” and inevitably, some jackass would eventually correct me. “Night?” he’d say. “You’re a little backward, aren’t you? It’s not even noon yet!” A good laugh had by all at my expense, but fair enough- I mean, how stupid does someone have to be to wish someone a good night when it’s still light out? Clearly, the ridicule was well deserved.

I could never understand why they were so offended. Did they want to have a bad night? Sure night was several hours away, but I was just thinking ahead. It’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?


Deep thought.

One day, around this time of year, I was walking home past the Jewish Community Centre. There was a pair of gentlemen standing outside, wishing passers-by a happy Hanukkah. It was nice of them, to stand in the cold and offer complete strangers a warm smile. As I passed and they said the same to me, I returned the greeting right back to them, and I genuinely meant it. They asked if I was Jewish, and I told them I wasn’t, but that I hoped they had a lovely holiday. They wished me the same. All in all, it was a decidedly agreeable encounter.

And then, as I walked away, it hit me: I’d just become a casualty of the War on Christmas.

I mean, how dare these people push their heathen holiday on me? Why do they hate Christmas so? Why do they hate joy? Wishing a Christian a happy Hanukkah is almost as offensive as wishing someone a good night during the day!

So you see where I’m going with this.

Today is the final day of Hanukkah (which seemed to come early this year for those of us who don’t follow the Jewish calendar). Christmas is still a couple of weeks away, so we’ve avoided the overlap that sometimes occurs. This would indicate that perhaps we’d be spared the “Holiday Wars” for one year. Which would be a shame, seeing as it’s become tradition.

My message to those who believe that war is being waged on the chronologically questionable birthday of our Lord and Saviour: get over it. There are other faiths. There are other holidays. There are people out there who do not celebrate Christmas. Accept them. Forgive them. Extend to them a hand in friendship. It’s the Christian thing to do.

And for those who don’t celebrate Christmas…

Listen. I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to see everyone around you celebrate a joyous holiday and feel left out. It’s unfortunate that our culture is so Christmas-centric that it forgets that there are other faiths out there. But you have to understand, most of us were brought up in Christian households, with Christian families and Christian traditions. When we were kids, Christmas was it, it was the thing, and we weren’t really aware of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Festivus. It’s not because we were willfully ignorant, it’s because we were kids. We didn’t know what mortgages or calculus or fellatio or Belgium were either. As we grow up, we become more culturally aware, but the expression “Merry Christmas” that we’ve heard from loved ones and classic films and greeting cards our whole life is a difficult habit to break. It’s what we know, and while we try to translate that into the multi-cultural world as we know it today, sometimes we slip. It’s not because we’re trying to convert you, or belittle your religion. Heck, most of us don’t even believe in Christ as the Son of God ourselves, and it’s well-known that most “Christmas” traditions are either Pagan in origin or merely winter-based. Sure, there are dickheads out there, the ones who believe in the War on Christmas, who might knowingly say “Merry Christmas” to a Muslim just to make a point or start a fight, but they are the exception. It’s the season for giving, so please, give us the benefit of the doubt.


If there really was a war on Christmas, we clearly wouldn't stand a chance.

The way I figure it, it’s cold enough out there for us to try to be warm to each other. Dear readers, I propose a new holiday trend: embrace the traditions of other cultures. Christians, place a menorah on your mantle this year. Jews, put up a Christmas tree. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Satanists, Scientologists, Rastafarians, and Atheists, I put this to you: candles and twinkly lights are pretty, cookies and latkes are delicious, and everybody likes presents, chocolate, money, and chocolate money. Let’s not make each other feel left out but invite each other in. If someone tells me to have a happy Hanukkah, I will not be offended by their failure to accurately gauge my religious stance, but instead feel welcomed into their holiday cheer. There is no reason for petty arguments over which holiday is the “right” one. After all, if we put them all together, it just means that the party will be that much more awesome.


Some things we can all agree are awesome.

Happy Holidays!