Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Feeling (Chanukah) Grinchy

Know what I’m looking forward to, probably more than I should be, for a little Jewish girl practically on the eve of Chanukah?

The Irish Day Parade

Yes, there is something wonderful about going out on a day with weather probably not much better than today’s weather, sunny and cool, but knowing that weather is the best it has been in weeks, and sure, it’s good enough for a parade, because hey, SPRING is on its way so I’ll put up with anything.

Amazing how the direction of the weather makes all the difference in the world.

And right now, it’s going down, down, down… on average, cooler by a whole degree a week until mid-January, at least.

And yes, I am feeling grinchy about Chanukah.  This is my least favourite Jewish holiday, and not because of anything poor little Chanukah has done.

This is the holiday that so many Jews allow non-Jews to define for them… it makes it a real struggle to find the authentic core and stick with it from year to year.

I was in Winners today and noticed a sign telling shoppers how Winners gift cards allow us to “celebrate our diversity.”  How?  Well, one card has a star… one has candles.  You see?  You are either a candle-person or a star-person (like the star-bellied Sneetches?).  And either way, Winners is the place you and your loved ones (or at least, your cared-about-enough-to-get-a-gift-card ones) belong at this time of year.

Okay!

Can’t we have another time of year to celebrate diversity?

Can’t we have another time of year to shop?

(Shhh) the truth of it is, I love Christmas so much.  I would love to just stand and stare at it, slack-jawed in amazement at the wonder of it.  Not just the crass and the twinkly and the music and the pomp (okay, the music is a big part of it).

The religion of it.  The story of it.  The reason behind the season.

I mean, wow.

It’s a baby!  Who doesn’t love a baby?

And yet…

It’s God!  Who doesn’t love God?

And okay, I am Jewish, so yes, God in diapers (at least they were cloth!).  I get that it’s absurd.  But still… imagine if it was true.  It’s not, it’s not!  Don’t chuck those menorah-candles at me!

(Have I mentioned I hate candle menorahs?  Oil, oil, oil… shemen zayis zach for me, please!)

And the wonder of people believing in it… and what it does to them.  They feel, for a day, or a week, or a month, like they’re part of something holy, something incredible.  Who wouldn’t be in a good mood?  Who doesn’t love having an incredible, holy purpose?

Now, I also know that Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, etc) is all that and more for us Jewish people.  If you want to find out about a people’s date with destiny, Nissan (Pesach) or Sivan (Shavuos) is the right time at the right place.

We do that, we get that.  Ideally, every single day of the year.  And as I point out to my kids, we have bazillions of holidays – most Christians only get a couple.

So I’m not converting, mostly because I don’t buy it for a second.

But I always feel like if I close my eyes and squint real hard, maybe tap my ruby slippers together, I can almost imagine that little baby God.  Who doesn’t love that?

Keep your eyes shut (but keep reading!).  Behind your eyelids savour that moment of bliss, of epiphany, literally tuning into the message of Godliness – a message, I might add, that we were supposed to have brought to the world… but apparently haven’t done a great job with so far – imagine the people smiling and holding doors for each other and humming merry tunes –

And then someone jumps up in your face and drones:  “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay!!!”

Who wouldn’t feel just a tad grinchy in the face of that???

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