Editorial Notebook

Becoming the Hanukkah police

By Lisa Knuckey January 30, 2019

Let’s clear one thing up: Hanukkah is not just “blue Christmas.” A blue and white wreath is no more Jewish than mashing up a few french fries and calling it a latke (although that wreath may have just been another Christmas decoration aimed toward Yankees fans anyway).

That said, it really isn’t too difficult to outfit a small shelf or two with menorahs and dreidels. At least, it shouldn’t be—somehow our local Walmart decided the market of “baseball fans who also want to express just how much they love the Yankees during this festive season” is a more viable market than the entire local Jewish population.

As we resume our normal lives following the break, it’s important to reflect on this past holiday season. While this year’s Starbucks seasonal cup design was not brewing up controversy about the “erasure of Christmas,” many still complained on social media regarding things as small as “Happy Holidays” replacing “Merry Christmas” in greetings. This is beyond absurd to me. My rabbi once compared it to a handicapped parking spot—even with an entire lot available to them, able-bodied drivers still complain or even take the few spots reserved for those who need them. Even with two full months of constant Christmas music, Christmas Santas in Christmas villages, Christmas movies interrupted only by Christmas commercials, and Christmas items in every store, still there are people complaining about the all inclusive, festive greeting of “Happy Holidays.” When was the last time you were greeted with “Happy Hanukkah?”

My mom is, and has always been, the self-appointed Hanukkah police. If a store with a Christmas display lacks Hanukkah representation, she finds a manager. If she is greeted with a specifically Christian greeting, she replies with, “and a happy Hanukkah to you too.” As a kid, I was beyond embarrassed to be trailing behind her as she sought out yet another executive to lecture on inclusivism; now, I have only respect for her policing. Next December, when I enter Walmart to discover the only blue and white is Yankees-themed Christmas decor, I think I just might push shame and anxiety aside long enough to follow in her footsteps.