Today I was pleased to realize part of the reason for moving back to Holy Land Central (HLC): Celebrating the holidays on my terms rather than forever being in the minority, smiling through gritted teeth as my child hums Christmas tunes and gushes over his preschool, Easter egg hunt. Yes, I’m all for diversity and learning about different cultures but we were definitely in danger of being “swallowed up” ‘oer yonder in America what with my non-synagogue-going tendencies and a lacking involvement in the Jewish community.
So what a joy it was this morning to join 30 other sets of parents at Raphael’s school in smashing our decidedly non-3-year-old toochases into minuscule, kiddie chairs to view an hour of song, dance and festivity featuring our little ‘uns.
Very impressive was the put-on by teacher Orli. She blocked out all the windows with black construction paper, decorated walls with neon paint, erected black lights and handed the kids day-glo, party sticks. When the lights went out, I nearly broke into a San Francisco, Warehouse-Rave-flashback-sweat. The visuals were awesome, dude.
However, some of it was simply Not How I Learned It. Back in the U.S. of A., we were taught the phrase: “A Great Miracle Happened There” referring to the miracle of Hannuka; it’s imprinted on the dreydls (spinning tops) we played with each season. Here in HLC, however, the saying goes: A Great Miracle Happened Here. Makes sense. After all, the Grecco-Syrians weren’t over in Miami conquering Sheldon Cohen’s condo.
But the first time I saw store display dreydls with the Hebrew stamps “here” rather than “there” I thought: Oh! Misprints! No wonder they’re so cheap. The store owner was kind enough to set me straight.
As I attempted to follow along with today’s program, I thought: Can Someone Teach Me the Tunes, please? The tykes were belting out songs about light, darkness, warriors and candleabras. I knew exactly 1.5 of the melodies despite a rather generous, Jewish upbringing. That’s because we clearly got the watered-down version back in America. Dreydl, dreydl, dreydl, I made it out of clay… Okay, cut! Hand over a fiver, Dad, or I’m going over to Timmy Jones’ house for spiked egg nogg and ham sandwiches
The finale ritual, however, more than made up for lacking, lyrics: jelly-filled, powdered donuts handed out to one and all. So sorry but the U.S. hallmark of this holiday – greasy, fried potato pancakes garnished with applesauce or sour cream – is such a turnoff! Do I really need the entire household, my clothing and hair to wreak of oil and onion? So the HLC way of celebrating – donuts filled with jelly, chocolate, dulce la leche or rum – is welcomed wholeheartedly, sisters and brothers.
I’m not going to lie: In a very tiny place I wouldn’t mind going to an office party, hearing some “Let It Snow” elevator Muzak or watching commercials bearing images of glowing hearths and blinking trees. I lived it too long to ignore the culture altogether. But MAN is it nice to have donuts and menorahs and parties and celebrations marking MY holiday for a change!
Good Cheer To All!