December Dilemma

Last night, my colleague Sara went with her husband, Tim, and their four-year-old daughter, Olivia, to the Chanukah dinner and art show at the Early Childhood Education Center at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center where Olivia is a student. 


Olivia made a beautiful chanukiah at school and was so proud to display it at the art show and bring it home after dinner. She has been reading Chanukah books at school and learning about Judah and the Maccabees. She’s been enjoying Chanukah songs and joyfully singing them around the house. 


Sounds great. What’s the dilemma? 


Olivia and her family aren’t Jewish. Chanukah isn’t their holiday. How would Sara and Tim answer Olivia if she asks why they don’t light candles at home? Why they don’t celebrate the victory over oppression and the miracle of the oil? Why they don’t eat latkes? Why they don’t spin the dreidel. Why they don’t eat gelt? 


I have heard of similar December-dilemma stories about Jews and their fomo (fear of missing out) on the celebrations of other religions and cultures. 


Chanukah starts Sunday night after sundown. Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights)!


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