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Dear Diary: Merry Hanukkah

I remember being in fourth grade and a boy would repeatedly ask me about my religion and what all these words that sounded like "coughing up phlegm" meant.

It may have been the lack of representation jews get during the December holidays but until about three years ago, I hated my culture. Especially when Christmas was just around the corner and all my classmates were decorating trees and discussing stockings and whatever else you do during Christmas — I really can’t tell you. Anyways, there wasn’t a menorah on Webkinz or a Hannukah (or even just PC “winter”) episode on any of the shows I was into (I guess I should’ve started watching “Weeds” sooner) which led to quite a strong disliking for my own culture. I think my parents indulged me for two years with our own version of Christmas but even that wasn’t the same.

Growing up Jewish is a pretty unique experience to be quite honest. I remember being in fourth grade and a boy would repeatedly ask me about my religion and what all these words that sounded like coughing up phlegm meant and my Hebrew school teacher telling us to not pay attention to what the other kids were doing during December. We had eight days of light and much better food (I can vouch latkes are better than anything in the whole world) but I still couldn’t get the wanting to be able to celebrate with my classmates at school out of my head. Christmas seemed much more cheerful, full of candy cane, toys and endless movies about Santa Claus and Rudolph. In music class, we’d sing songs about this fat man up on a roof with presents for children. None of the songs were about the Maccabees or oil in the menorah. Our first-grade teacher would turn on the radio and all my classmates instantly knew the lyrics to every song, singing along and seemingly having way more fun than imaginable, leaving me stranded and alienated.

I’m not saying Hanukkah is better than Christmas. The Christians definitely have got those candy canes down but is any of that even associated with Christ? I love my holiday. I love the endless amount of culture spreading through it from the deep-fried latkes to represent the oil that lasted eight days, to the collection of menorahs my family has accumulated over the years. And we’ve definitely got something in common with Christmas; both celebrations are for miracles. After having defeated the Greeks, the Maccabees (Jewish rebels) were sure the fire on menorah inside the temple, that had been completely destroyed, would have to go out before they could get more oil and instead, it lasted for eight nights, just enough to receive more.

Overall, I love December. I love the long break, fuzzy sweaters and that Billy and Mandy holiday special about vampires and most importantly, I love my culture and where I came from.


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