It’s Sundown: “Happy Hanukkah,” “Oy To The World!”

It’s 4:40pm here on the west coast, officially sundown…


Now before anyone asks (I always get several, “Oh, hey, I didn’t know you were Jewish!” responses), let’s get this out of the way … I’m not Jewish. But in addition to having been raised by the most Jewish non-Jewish mother on the face of the planet (pretty sure she invented the word “guilt,” and instead of a Jesus fish, her car proudly sported a gefilte fish), I’ve always celebrated Hanukkah in my own small way, as best I could with what knowledge I have of the traditions, because I hold the deeply passionate belief that all spiritualities are connected and inseparable. I don’t believe in boxes. I have my mom to thank for raising me to see and respect that although we may have different names for The Light and different guidelines and rituals to bring us closer to it, we’re all walking side by side on the same path, heading toward the same destination. It doesn’t matter to me by which name you call your God — that’s my God. I don’t know how long it will take, but I believe one day everyone will feel this way and will see that we’re not so different. Then maybe we’ll finally have peace.

I’m sad today, because years ago my friend, Irina, gave me a really nice menorah — a silver arch that’s so graceful and unusual in it’s simplicity, I kept it out year-round — and right now, it’s buried in a box somewhere out in the barn. Even if I could figure out which box it’s in, there’s no way I could get to it. So this is the first time in years I don’t have a menorah to light. But I’ll be lighting a candle nonetheless!

Although Kim was an atheist, he was the atheistic version of me when it came to various religions. He jumped on my Hanukkah train for the ride, getting far more excited about that than Christmas. While he was not a fan of Christmas music, he was totally on board for the Hanukkah stuff, which I would play almost exclusively for the eight nights. It became a personal challenge for me, trying to find new Hanukkah music each year. It was hard to come by (there’s more now than there used to be) and I was always so thrilled when I managed to find something new, especially if it was new and unusual. Because, y’know, it couldn’t be just anything … it had to be listenable and, even better, fun.

Kim’s equal-opportunity-religion passion grew beyond music when, one year, we happened to find a roll of Kwanzaa wrapping paper at a local store. He nearly wet himself right there in the aisle. Fortunately it was one of those insanely long rolls and that’s the paper he wrapped all of his gifts in for three or four years. (Okay, I wrapped all of his gifts in it, because Kim never wrapped his own gifts and, frankly, most of the time he didn’t even BUY his own gifts for people — I did it. Ssshhh!)

When the inevitable day came that the Kwanzaa paper was nearly out, Kim bemoaned the fact and kept saying he wished he could find Hanukkah paper. So I went on a mission and brought home four different giant rolls! He was so impressed and kept asking but how, where, what, when…??? “Magic.” When I moved, I gave those rolls away. I knew I would never be able to use them any more. They made me too sad. That was always “his special thing.” Actually, I gave all my Christmas wrapping paper away, too, about 30 rolls, a collection it had taken me years to amass. Bows, gift bags, and tags, too. No point in keeping any of it since I don’t have anyone to wrap gifts for any more. I figured if/when I do ever have a gift I need to wrap for someone, I’d just go with a gift bag.

Every December, we also always got a sheet of either Hanukkah or Kwanzaa stamps from the Post Office. (We often got and would use Eid stamps in December, too. Although that’s not a December holiday, they usually said “Greetings” and looked festive.)

One thing I’ve never been able to find is a Hanukkah holiday movie. But I do have quite a few holiday movies with the theme of a Jewish/Christian couple whose relatives come together around the holidays, cultures clash, whackiness (or drama) ensues, and in the end everyone realises hey, we’re not so very different after all and lives happily ever after. One such movie is Will You Merry Me? (click to see when it’s on next). Another is Hitched For The Holidays on Hallmark networks. I know it’s on Hallmark Channel tomorrow, Sunday, 12/9, 2012 at noon Eastern and again on Tuesday, 12/11, 2012 at 6pm Eastern). I’m sure it will air a few times more after that. Check the schedule.

So to commemorate the first night of Hanukkah, here are a couple of tracks I love. It was really hard to pick, because I love them all! That’s why there are two. I planned to only use one and it just wasn’t enough! So I’ve gone with one that’s Jewish Hanukkah and one that’s Christmas Hanukkah (because I promised Irina I’d do my best to remember to post a klezmer Christmas track tonight so she can hear yes, really, Jewish Christmas music, yay!).

The first is a new track by one of my favorite artists, Matisyahu. (He did a great performance of it on Leno a few nights ago, but I prefer the album version because it’s much more boom-y.) This song — all his songs, actually — makes me soooo happy! I wish Kim could have heard it. We’d have been doing the Dinnertime-Dancing-Around-The-Kitchen like crazy. It always gets me doing some serious head-banging and [my own personal trademarked, thankyouverymuch] chair-dancing with a big idiot grin on my face. SO HAPPY! All proceeds from the sale of this track go to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, so it you like it, please please buy it through iTunes or Amazon. You can get and give at the same time!

The second is for Irina. “Oy To The World!” by The Klezmonauts from the album of the same name. Merry Christmukkah!

And finally, here’s a pic I took of Santa at the town tree lighting festivities last night. It’s true what everyone says … celebrities really do look smaller in person!


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