Santa Deprived: Inequality of Hannukah and Christmas

by Farrel Levenson ’11

One month of the year, December, everyone is suddenly jolly. Red and green lights deck the storefronts, and peppy little Christmas songs take over the radio. Christmas specials appear on every channel, and ABC even starts a countdown towards that coveted day.Best of all, Santa magically appears at the mall. If you are lucky, you get to sit on the chubby bearded guy’s lap, and even better, take a picture! Plus, you get to tell Santa if you were naughty or nice, as well as exactly what you want for Christmas. He’s Santa. Of course he’ll get it for you. Look back at what I just wrote. Did you see anything about Hanukkah? Or Jewish people? I’m Jewish, in this over-marketed Christmas-crazed month. And let me tell you, it’s not fun.

We get a corner of an aisle in CVS, sparsely stocked with paper plates with menorahs on them, and maybe some plastic dreidels. No Santa (Hanukkah Harry doesn’t count), barely any songs, and no TV specials. Stores don’t sport blue and white lights, except the occasional one with a menorah, next to the mini-Santas. Our sole bragging rights are the fact our holiday lasts eight days, and the food. Whether it’s because the oil lasted eight days (Hebrew school circa third grade), we won a war (Hebrew school circa seventh grade), or American Jews wanted to equal the Christians, I don’t know.

But it’s still nice to get eight days of presents. Further, latkes, fried potato thingies, are amazing. And chocolate coins, gelt, are pretty good too. But that’s where it ends. We don’t get luminous decorated trees, or the classic “run down the stairs the morning of to mountains of prettily wrapped presents under the tree.”

Heck, I don’t get to leave cookies and milk out for a guy with a throwback red velvet suit that looks out of the eighties, who will somehow come out of my chimney with sacks of presents while Rudolph and the other reindeer wait on the roof. Worst of all, this is killer- we don’t get any school off. If Hanukkah falls in the beginning of December, as it did last year, you get to celebrate the holiday every night, and still are expected to have completed your mountains of homework in time for school the next day. Christmas, one day a year, one week plus of school off? Hanukkah, eight days a year, no school off? Anyone see the disconnect?

I’m not complaining about the school-free break, but I feel like we need to throw in some days to observe Hanukkah too, its only fair. So basically, we need some more Hanukkah appreciation. Preferably songs like “Walking around the Dreidel Game” or Hanukkah TV specials, or even just Hanukkah lights at the downtown stores. Maybe even two whole shelves in CVS for Hanukkah decorations- if that’s not pushing it. Until then, you’ll find me eating my latkes, envying the decorated Christmas trees and watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Not even I can resist that.