Ho Hum Hanukkah
It feels way too early for Hanukkah. Wasn’t Thanksgiving just last week? And isn’t Christmas still over 3 weeks away?
That’s my excuse for why it’s day #3 of Hanukkah and we haven’t lit one candle yet in our home. The first night we forgot. The second night we did a group candle lighting at Temple Micah before choir rehearsal. And tonight we went to a friend’s house for latkes.
When our children were younger, we made a big deal of decorating our house, lighting candles every night, and giving 8 days of (mostly little) gifts. It was best when when Christmas fell sometime within the 8-day span of Hanukkah. But sometimes it didn’t -- like this year when Hanukkah will be history by the time Christmas rolls around.
We no longer give each other gifts. We gave our non-observant children a single Hanukkah gift each.
I undoubtedly will get inspired to make latkes sometime before the holiday ends. And we will probably get out our menorah and candles tomorrow.
Our choir went to a nursing home to sing Hanukkah songs for an elderly congregant with Parkinson’s disease today. With the exception of PPM’s “Light One Candle” and “Una Candelika” made popular locally by Flory Jagoda, the music is singularly uninteresting and doesn’t stand up well to things like Handel’s “Messiah.” Our presence probably counted for as much as our singing for most of the residents who knew not one word of Hebrew.
As for the significance of the holiday, it is curious that it not biblically based in the least. Instead it commemorates the first battle for religious freedom -- occurring in 165 BCE when the small band of Maccabees defeated the powerful Syrian-Greek army. Children learn the mythical story of the small amount of temple oil lasting for 8 days -- hence the length of the holiday.
I have a hard time getting psyched for this minor holiday that has been elevated to a Christmas competitor. I suppose you can say “Bah, humbug” in any religion. Maybe I’ll feel differently next week when it’s all over for another year.