The correct response to Happy Chanukah is not “Oh, yeah, and Happy Kwanzaa or whatever.”

Dear gentiles, when you say Merry Christmas and I say Happy Chanukah, don’t cheapen it by saying, “Oh yeah, and Happy Kwanzaa or whatever.”

First, there is the matter of sincerity. Chanukah is a Jewish holiday that predates Christmas. Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that started in 1966. I don’t know if I look Jewish, but I certainly don’t look black. When you lump Kwanzaa in with Chanukah I think that you think I am just saying Happy Chanukah to be PC, and that I don’t actually mean it sincerely. Here’s the truth: I don’t say Happy Chanukah to be inclusive or politically correct; I say it because celebrate it.

Second, there is the matter of timing. When you wish me a Merry Christmas and it’s not December 25th, it’s not actually Christmas day. When I wish you a Happy Chanukah, I am doing so on one of the eight days of Chanukah I am actually celebrating that day. When you wish me a Happy Kwanzaa, you are wishing me a happy holiday that isn’t even celebrated until the day after Christmas through New Year’s Day. If you want to wish anyone a Happy Kwanzaa, do so when it’s actually being celebrated.

The best response to Happy Chanukah? “Thank you.”

P.S. For clarification: I don’t go around wishing people Happy Chanukah, but when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas during Chanukah, I say, “Thank you! And Happy Chanukah!” Sometimes I say, “Thank you, and I’m celebrating Chanukah today.” I try various responses, but I prefer to acknowledge my celebration of Chanukah rather than just saying nothing about it. I suppose I am trying to make a statement, but I’m also sincere.


Happy end of Passover 2012 / Pesach 5772

Table set for seder
We held a little seder at home the first night.
Philly Indulgence dark chocolate cream cheese
Sunday morning I had some charoset with a matzah covered with dark chocolate cream cheese.
Matzo ball soup
Sunday night Andy made a delicious matzo ball soup.
Matzah cracker lasagna
Tuesday night Andy made a sumptuous lasagna with matzah instead of noodles. It had beef in it (my idea), so it’s meat and dairy together, but that’s how we roll!
Lemon sponge cake
Friday I made a lemon sponge cake from a recipe on a canister of Manischewitz potato starch. (Friday night I drenched it in an icing made of lemon juice and powdered sugar. Even yummier.)

I’m not orthodox about the way I celebrate holidays. There was the hamburger in the lasagna. Heck, on some Passovers I’ve breakfast on eggs, matzah with butter on it, and bacon. Once in a while, I give into a craving, mix meat and dairy, add bacon, and have it on a chometzdik bun! As I Facebooked Thursday, “Eating a Sourdough Jack during Passover is wrong in so many ways… but it feels so right.” I do try to avoid “cheating” for the sake of observing the holiday, but when I give in, I don’t feel guilty; I just joke about it. The way I see it, even if I’m breaking tradition and joking about it, I’m acknowledging the tradition. The stomping of feet, the smell of sweat breaking out on flushed skin, the fear and hope of people who grabbed what they could and ran out of Egypt without even time to let their dough rise– these “memories” are with me. One might ask, “If you’re going to break the commandments, why even bother?” Well, I would rather observe the holiday by mostly abstaining from chometz (leavening) than by not abstaining at all. This was our Pesach, and I enjoyed it!