"I'm a Jew, a lonely Jew, on Christmas." A well-known line from a cute little song that Kyle sang on South Park's first Christmas special episode.
This sentiment is a common one that people have projected on me.
Do you get sad at Christmas? Do you wish that you got to put up a tree? What do you do on Christmas day? These are all questions I have been asked since I am Jewish. No, I don't get sad, and I've never wished for a tree. I usually go snowboarding on Christmas day with my family.
I have lived in Colorado my whole life, and not in Denver, so I've never lived among a large Jewish community. Most of my friends have not been Jewish, so my experience has been very interesting.
Every year when the holidays rolled around I was just as excited as the next kind. To get presents, eat good food, and have fun, although it was a little different. I got eight nights of presents, usually one a night, sometimes more. We would eat potato latkes, fried potato pancakes. We would light candles every night for the eight days to commemorate how the one-day's worth of oil lasted eight days for the Jews in the destroyed Temple. We would sing songs in Hebrew and play dreidel, and gambling game with a top that has four Hebrew letters on it.
My non-Jewish friends would come over on one of the nights to celebrate with us and it was a very merry holiday. If we weren't in the mountains for Christmas day, I would spend the night at a friend's house and celebrate Christmas with them.
Hanukah is not a very important holiday in Jewish tradition. It has nowhere near the significance of Christmas to Christians. It's a holiday celebrating a military victory where that Maccabees, led by Judah Maccabees, revolted against the Hellenistic Syrians around 165 BCE (before common era). Although the Maccabees won, the Syrians had destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Left in the destruction was a small can of oil with only enough oil in it to burn for one day. A miracle occurred and that oil burned for eight days thus bringing about the celebration of Hanukah.
For me Hanukah has always been about family. On the first night we get the whole family together, grandparents, aunts and uncles and anyone else who we can persuade to come. It is truly a festival of lights, food, games and songs. Since I've come to college this has been altered and we all get together on the first Sunday of Hanukah so that everyone can make it without missing things like classes.
I can't really sympathize with Kyle; I am not a lonely Jew on Christmas. But I have never been made to feel like a lonely Jew on Christmas. I have always had great friends who include me in their festivities and who want to join in on mine.