I learned that my local community center was having a talent show and to be in it members needed to apply with letter of interest, description of talent or resume, wait to be selected for auditions, and then wait to be selected to perform. I applied to play Native American flute.
I thought I’d be competing against the cast of thousands, but when I delivered my letter of interest with description of talent to the organizer chief himself, I discovered I was the sole applicant. He invited me to sit down and chat. First he asked how I came to play the flute, then whether I grew up playing anything. He then asked, “Are you interested in a chamber group?”
“A chamber group?” I said. For some reason, I thought he was referring to the Chamber of Commerce.
He said, “Some musicians are in a chamber group.”
I said, “Usually people who play violin, viola, or cello…”
He said, “I think it would be great if a chamber group played at Christmastime and members could listen.”
Feeling rather diplomatic, I said, “I hope you will include other holidays that happen that time of year.”
“Of course,” he said, “we could even include Rosh Hashanah.”
It’s that time again. That time when people ask, “What are you doing for Christmas this year?”
When I worked at a publishing company in Boston, people asked me about my Christmas plans a lot. I said my usual, “I am Jewish, and I celebrate Hanukkah.”
One woman’s response was, “Well, some Jews celebrate Christmas.” She told me this two years in a row.
Having grown up in a Christmas-centered culture, I can tell you that the “holiday” in holiday season does not refer to my holiday. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon with holiday parties, holiday cards, and holiday music. I participated in holiday concerts throughout grade school; I recall the lyrics to nearly every Christmas carol and Christmas-related song over twenty years later. I have forgotten many of the words to the Hanukkah songs I grew up singing with my family. I hum along at Hanukkah sing-alongs.
I celebrate in my own special way. I enjoy going to Hanukkah parties, watching the lighting of menorahs and the flickering of the lights. I also immerse myself in Jewish music. The lively melodies uplift my spirit. This year I loved listening to Shir Soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtlLHwk9_Rw
I feel revived when I honor my holiday this way. I feel honored when others observe and acknowledge the passing of my holiday. How refreshing to hear “Happy Hanukkah!” Such words I hold dear to my heart.
How are you celebrating Hanukkah this year?