Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Together

Almost every year, I write a Thanksgiving post for those who are alone, forgotten, left out. Or in family crisis because of the holiday. (You can read them all, from 2012, 201120102009, 2008, and 2007.) This year Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall together, which is enough reason for hackles to rise. I for one, decided to defuse a hackle-raising conversation. I love both holidays.

Into my local huge grocery store I went, in search of Hanukkah candles. Couldn’t find any.

Customer service: “We won’t get them till December 10th”

Me: “That’s five days after Hanukkah is over.”

Customer Service: “Why do you people keep moving that holiday around anyway?”

Me: “For the same reason you people keep moving Easter around. Neither of those holidays is a fixed date, it’s set by a lunar calendar.”

Customer Service [gets on phone, talks, frowns, looks at me] “We aren’t carrying them this year. Last year, you people didn’t buy enough, so we aren’t going to carry them any more.”

candlesNow I felt sad and dispirited. One of my worst feelings is one of being exiled into a forgotten corner because I’m not [fill in mainstream-related word here.] I thanked the customer service person, ignored the “you people” and drooped toward the exit. And then I had a thought–I could make this about lack and attack (the Inner Critic’s favorite emotions). Or I could find a way around it. We don’t have young kids who are scandalized in our household, and Cooking Man is Christian, so we celebrate anything that feels like fun.

Back I went, and picked up two packages of tea lights. At home, I placed them on an old family blue serving plate, cut rosemary from the hedge, placed it around the base of the tea lights and lit up.

Traditionally, you light one candle the first night, two the next, and so on. I decided to light all of the candles the first night, then one less each night. The night after the last Hanukkah candle burns out, we decorate for Christmas.

Because that’s how my people roll.

–Quinn McDonald loves celebrating almost anything.

34 thoughts on “Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Together

  1. Seriously, you talked about lunar calendars to that clerk? That’s great! Wish I’d been there!

    After thousands of years and thousands of different religions, every day of the year must be some sort of holiday. Happy Holidays!

    • I refuse to talk down to people. Interestingly enough, most people simply ignore it if I say something they don’t understand. (Instead of asking or questioning.) Arizona is a place of great natural beauty, bot many of the residence are remarkably un-curious about the world they live in, and in general, our culture is anti-intellectual as a whole–that I think is larger than Arizona. I’ve experienced that all over the place.

      • The whole point of this society (I mean most of the US) is to be anti-intellectual. It’s just a temporary accident that we started to “like” education and learning; an aberration that’s being automatically corrected, slowly. Most of the history we focus on, the stories in our mythology, our traditions, most institutions, our politics, policies, entertainment — it all elevates and promotes anti-intellectualism.

  2. Happy Hanukkah Quinn. I have not your grace of spirit, so I say “Bah Humbug” to all of “those people”!

    PS – In Canada we are being bombarded with “Black Friday” ads and it is leaving me with feelings of “enough already”. This might be the year that the commercialization of Christmas finally snaps the thread that keeps me hanging on to memories of happy holidays in the past.

    • No, no, don’t let that thread of happy holidays snap! You can squint around it. I was in the mall last week (against my will) and instead of looking at the faces of the stressed-out shoppers, I kept my eye above their heads, at the twinkling lights against the dark sky-ceiling of the mall, at the clever displays in the stores. Light candles, put up lights, but keep your spirit of wonder. And ignore Black Friday except for the part that allows retail workers to not get laid off right before Christmas!

  3. Happy Hanukkah, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Everything to you and Kent! I’m very thankful for our friendship, your wit, your grace and your insight. I’m so glad you didn’t let somebody else’s (and the stores) ignorance get the best of you. Perfect way to handle it!

  4. Great post, Quinn. Speaking of inner critic (I have an entire committee) a friend shared something she learned at a workshop on this subject. If you keep asking IC what he wants when he is telling you not to try something! at the bottom of it all is wanting your success and happiness.

    I recently read Zealot and feel it is important to remember that Jesus was a Jew…and Thanksgiving, happily, is only about practicing gratitude…and one does need to practice!

    I am thankful for your presence in the world.

    • We’ve known each other for a long time Pam, and you have taught me so much about generosity and an open spirit. I love the lessons you bring. I’ve learned to look, not for the edge of the light where it edges into darkness, but into the bright joy at the center.

  5. Thank you for your creative and loving response – a response from the spirit that lives in our creating of holidays that honor and celebrate; a response that moved beyond the letter of the custom; a response that moved beyond tribalism; a response that celebrated the abundance that sustains us.

    • Thank you. That is what I was trying for, and you said it far better than what I was feeling. But I have learned that what I am feeling is not always what I should express. And I didn’t have my 10-inch cast iron skillet available for head-knocking. But you are right, after I left and decided to shift my perspective, I felt lighter and happier. And acted better to the next dozen people I cam across. It really is worthwhile! Thank you for being my uplifting teacher today!

  6. I feel your pain. I went shopping for a menorah and candles for a friend (long story) and it was near impossible to find either. I finally found candles at Pier One and a menorah at Target of all places.

    So frustrating! I said to the folks in several other large stores, “I have lots of presents to buy for Hanukkah. But until I find a menorah, I’m on a mission and won’t buy anything else. You’d think the store execs would want to send me a signal that they want my cash!” Luckily, I was dealing with people who were sympathetic.

    Happy Hanukkah!

    • I love you for buying a menorah and candles for a friend! I have both Pier One and Target nearby, and I think I’ll try that. Pier One always has weird, wonderful things that wind up in my studio!

  7. At the first “you people” I was furious, at the second I was ropable! Bloody rude! I’ve always had a sense of justice, I knew that equal wasn’t equity, missionaries going out and ‘converting’ people made no sense! At age 9 or 10 I outraged the Sunday School teacher for questioning how she could say we should all be this Christian rather than Buddhist. At secondary school I was before the headmistress for standing up for myself and the headmaster for standing up to someone else and telling a teacher he was unfair . . . and he was!

    Quinn, I don’t know how I would have reacted but I’m sure it wouldn’t have been with the same grace as you did . . . I am fuming at the ignorance!

    What do I celebrate? It’s not Thanksgiving here and I don’t celebrate Hanukkah and I’m not Christian. A spiritual unlabelled soul, I celebrate the change of season, the sun and moon, rain and shine, laughter, love and the turning of the tide. I celebrate with candles, good food and wine and loving friends and family.

    A joyous, loving Hanukkah Quinn.

    • You were a brave and beautifiully daring child and I love you for it! I’m not religious, but I love the way you describe it–celebrating the change of seasons, the moon and stars, rain and shine, and laughter. I’d celebrate the changing tide if I didn’t live in the desert, but we have subtleties that I can celebrate! One of the really important thing Jewish holidays have taught me (from when I was more observant to letting go of things unequal and unfair in every aspect) was that I can spend my whole life fuming and feeling left out. Or I can choose a reaction that lifts my soul and includes others, and let them walk their own path. It’s much easier, and I have enough strength left over to pick my battles of social justice where I can do more good. I am so grateful to have your wisdom in m life and on my blog.

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