How the Grinch Stole Hanukkah

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How the Grinch Stole Hanukkah

My family's

My family's "Hanukkah tree" is topped with a crudely assembled pop-sickle stick Star of David.

My family's "Hanukkah tree" is topped with a crudely assembled pop-sickle stick Star of David.

My family's "Hanukkah tree" is topped with a crudely assembled pop-sickle stick Star of David.

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Ahhh the holidays, the time of light, joy, cheer and…controversy.

In 2015, Starbucks launched a series of red cups for the season. One would think this would be a safe move for the coffee company, red cups are nothing overtly religious or divisive. However, the Starbucks marketing executives were in for a surprise when they caught wind of the public outrage, not over what was on the cups, but over what was not.

There was anger and hatred on all fronts. One side was adamant for cups emblazoned with images of a nativity scene, adorned with bible verses as the divine light seeps amidst the venti Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino. The other side was outraged at the sheer amount of controversy about, of all things, a Starbucks cup.

Meanwhile, some insist on saying “Merry Christmas” to all, while others are vehemently pro-”Happy Holidays.” It seems throughout this winter season, we are perpetually asking ourselves: Too Christmas-y? Not Christmas-y enough?

But, why is everything exclusively about Christmas?

If the holiday season is a sandwich, then Christmas is the mayonnaise. Are there other delicious ingredients on that sandwich? Absolutely. But, mayonnaise suffocates the taste buds so that the fragrant tomatoes and E.Coli-ridden romaine lettuce go completely unnoticed. I really like mayo, no sandwich is complete without it. However, I want to taste other things too.

When I walk into a department store, Christmas takes up most of the prime real-estate. Tree ornaments dangle from shelves and the bulbous bellies of Santa dolls sag, dotting the aisles with speckles of red and white. Meanwhile, in a dark corner on the other side of the store, a broken menorah and a half-empty bag of gelt mingle with the cobwebs. 

a broken menorah and a half-empty bag of gelt mingle with the cobwebs.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love polar bears and snow men and jovial old men who eat cookies. I love driving home at night and seeing specks of light twinkling on the horizon and trees ensnared with little ornaments from failed kindergarten craft projects peeking out of windows. I love walking through the mall to find awkward, bumbling Santas, adjusting their beards as skeptical children tug on them. Still, it saddens me to see other beliefs and traditions so discounted and blatantly pushed to the side.

My favorite part of Christmas is how it gets people into the spirit of giving sweet little gifts, turning outwards from themselves, and embracing family and friends. In that vein, the holidays shouldn’t be about controversy or, for that matter, about a single holiday. They should be about that fuzzy warm feeling that comes from accepting and seeking to understand the traditions of others. Winter holidays may not all come wrapped in a familiar red and green bow; but, they all deserve attention and acknowledgement for making this cold and dreary season a little brighter.

Whether you believe America is a melting pot or a mosaic, we can all agree that diversity is a large part of what makes America America. Just like guns, McDonalds, and drunken men stumbling and slurring “Murrrica”, our diversity is an integral part of our national identity.

This season, no one should feel isolated because of what holiday they celebrate or how they celebrate it. Let’s make it our mission to learn more about others and their traditions. Let’s have Christmas share the spotlight a bit.

Click here for information about the various holidays celebrated in these months, and click here for more thorough information on the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.

As we prepare to embark on our winter vacation, sit back, raise a glass of eggnog and enjoy some latkes. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Holidays from all of us at the Jetstream Journal.

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