Celebrating ALL the holidays
It’s a very special time of year, as we all know. It’s the season to spread joy, love, and to celebrate…something.
For so many people, it’s easy – you celebrate Christmas, and everywhere you go there are people who, just like you, have set up their Christmas trees and lights, and are shopping for presents to put under the tree. But for me, and many others, we have our own celebrations going on. In my family, it’s Hanukah.
When I was a little kid, I went to a Jewish school, so everyone I knew celebrated Chanukah. Then, when I was 10, I started going to public school, and I just happened to be the only kid in the entire school who didn’t celebrate Christmas.
That was the moment when I realized that I was very much in a minority, and sometimes it seemed that I was the only person in the world who celebrated Hannukah.
I remember sitting in a school assembly, where all the other kids were singing Christmas songs, and I had no idea what any of the words were because there were no Chanuka songs. I felt so alone, because no one seemed to recognize that their fellow students may be celebrating other holidays, that something other than Christmas existed at this time of year. I remember finding that so frustrating!
As I grew up, I realized that none of those students meant any harm. Many of them had never met someone who was Jewish before, and they had plenty of reason to be excited about Christmas. And why not? Christmas is a very exciting holiday, and so is Hanukkah! So I started teaching my peers about my family’s traditions, why we celebrate, and just how much fun the season can be for everyone.
Here at UVic, we have plenty of opportunities to celebrate the holidays. Santa came for a visit and photos, and if you walk around campus you’ll see plenty of decorations.
Just as I was writing this post, there was a group of people walking around singing Christmas carols! We also had a great Hanuka celebration last week, with candle lighting and latkes (or potato pancakes fried in oil – yum!) for everyone!
Even though your holiday may not be the same one everyone else celebrates, there’s always a chance to teach others, and to have a lot of fun along the way.
So what’s the lesson to be learned here? For me, it was not to be afraid of Christmas. Just because I don’t celebrate it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy other people’s joy. And besides, I have my own Channukah joy to spread.
It took me a long time to learn that it was okay that others didn’t immediately recognize that my holiday was also occurring, and that they didn’t mean any harm by asking me questions. After all, it was just another opportunity for me to teach them about the wonders of the miracle of lights, the joyous celebration of Channukkah!
Chag Chanuka Sameach! Happy holidays to everyone!
PS: Did I spell Hanuka differently each time it appeared in this post on purpose? You bet I did! Which one is correct? Who’s to say? Do I find it hilarious? You know I do!