Stranger in a Strange Land (part 1)

There was an interesting discussion on NPR this morning. The correspondent was a woman who grew up in Brooklyn, New York in an Orthodox Jewish community.  She recounted how, in her neighborhood, Hanukkah was not a “substitute” for Christmas.  In her neighborhood, all were Jewish, and all celebrated the festival of lights.

Later in her life, she spent several years living in Israel.  She waxed nostalgic about the Hanukkah celebrations there:  the Gelt, the Dreidel and the special foods: filled doughnuts and potato lattke. It wasn’t until she returned to the US and moved to Washington DC, that she realized the pervasiveness of Christmas….and she felt left out.  She mentioned the PC menorah at “Holiday Parties”…which always is on a side table, and separate from the overpowering evergreen strewn green and red decor found everywhere at this time of year.

There is a drug rep who comes to our office.  She and I have in common our love for vintage clothing (discovered when I admired her obviously 50’s cashmere mink-collared  coat last year….).  When she got pregnant with her first child, we celebrated her good fortune, and it came up in conversation how they were preparing for the “naming ceremony”…a Jewish tradition.

Today, the drug rep came into the office. We greeted one another, and talked about my upcoming move to Hawaii, and how I expected it to be quite an adjustment to live in a society where I was a minority……

As we parted, and I realized that today is the first day of Hanukkah, I wished her a happy Hanukkah.  She got very quiet.  And then she teared up….”You’re the only one today to remember!  Thank you!”

I’m sure there is a lesson in there somewhere….but I’m too choked up to think about it…..