“SNL Christmas special is on,” my mom texted me last night, alerting me to turn to channel four. “Wonder if they’ll do Christmas time for the Jews.”
Those kinds of things were very important in our household around the holidays. The small glimmer of the Hanukkah light that peer through all the Christmas festivities. We lived for the one single aisle in Target stocked with menorahs, Star of David decor and packages of geld. We learned every lyric to Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song that appeared on the radio ever so often.
Hanukkah is obviously not as widely celebrated as Christmas, so we take what we can get.
As a Long Island Jewish family, annual holiday trips into Manhattan to see the tree and gawk at the window displays happened without question. To this day, my aunt and I brave the crowds, trek to Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Sachs Fifth Avenues, all those places, to check out their holiday get up. Every now and again, a Hanukkah scene would slip in among the Christmas lights and Santa hats. But, obviously, no one goes to Rockefeller Center to see the big menorah.
As a little girl who celebrated Hanukkah her whole life, I would start to feel a little jealous of people with Christmas trees in their house. I never truly knew the feeling of waiting anxiously for Santa on Christmas Eve. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever believed in Santa Claus.
After celebrating over 20 Hanukkahs, I can say for sure that I’ve gotten used to the onslaught of Christmas decoration in my neighborhood. As I grew, I was less bitter about being the only Jew in my class.
I cheer on houses I see with blow-up Hanukkah bears with spinning dreidels on the front lawn. I celebrate the huge achievement of actually finding Hanukkah wrapping paper instead of using a generic winter snowman pattern. I find humor in it now, sort of like a secret club that only a select few belong to.
The small amount of representation of the Jewish holidays in the mainstream market isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Rather, it builds a sense of community. We bond over that sort of stuff. It’s comforting knowing that there are other families out there who know what it’s like to be the only ones with a menorah in the window.