What It Feels Like When Someone Wishes Me ‘Happy Hanukkah’

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Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. This was taken from outside my home, looking into the front window.

I grew up in a conservative, Christian state where most people say Merry Christmas. And that’s fine.

I usually say Happy Holidays. I never take offense to a greeting of the season, regardless of how it’s spoken. But something warm and precious emerges when someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah.

Let me paint a picture for a moment:

When you grow up as a religious minority, you’re used to society overlooking your holiday. It’s nothing that bothers or insults you. Therefore, you never think twice when someone gives you a Christmas card, or a Santa hat, or an ornament. You appreciate it.

Yet, I’ve never forgotten the boss who bought me a Hanukkah card my first year on the job—accompanied by a bottle of wine—or the friend who texts me the first night of Hanukkah every year. Precisely because I don’t expect it, when someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah, they enter a special place in my heart and mind.

For me, those two simple words permeate deeper than the typical holiday greeting.

They say, “I see you. I recognize you. I understand this is your holiday, and I want to acknowledge that.” They say, “I accept you. I welcome you. And I hope you have a lovely Festival of Lights.”

I make it my mission to wish people whatever holiday they celebrate. For most of my friends or colleagues, I say Merry Christmas. I’ve wished a Happy Kwanza. And I say Happy Holidays when I don’t know someone’s religion.

Rarely, however, do I receive a Happy Hanukkah. When I do, it makes my heart dance. I rejoice in sharing the miracle and delight of my holiday with others, just as so many spread Christmas cheer wherever they go.

I know people do not say Happy Hanukkah for a variety of reasons: they’re shy, or they’re unsure of the correct greeting, or they think I also celebrate Christmas. Some people just don’t know. That’s okay.

But for the occasional person who acknowledges my holiday directly, thank you for making my smile glow just a little brighter.

Happy Holidays! And Farewell ‘Till January

Shari Lopatin

No, I’m not saying “Happy Holidays” to appease the PC Police, or to anger the “Merry Christmas” folks. I’m merely saying Happy Holidays because … well, I don’t know what you celebrate.

But whatever it is, I want it to be happy for you, because I’m a nice person. Whether you’re observing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or just the Winter Solstice, I really, truly, honestly, sincerely, genuinely, humbly, wholeheartedly want your holiday to be filled with love, and family, and friends, and jokes, and a ton of food. Or at least, a decent meal, because I know this time of year, not everyone is doing a-okay.

Also, I hope you have a cool New Year. I’m not going to say “happy,” because of course I want it to be happy (I’m a nice person, remember?). But I also want it to be interesting, quirky, edgy, prosperous, and whatever else you’d hope a new year can be.

I’m offline now until January 2015. But if you decide you can’t take life without my weekly words of wisdom, then connect with me on Facebook and/or Twitter. I’ll post occasionally throughout these next two weeks. 

Otherwise, I hope YOU take some time away from your computer and phone these next two weeks, enjoy the holidays, and absorb life.

Your Funny Stories: ‘Santa’s Not Real?!’

Hanukkah began Tuesday night, and Christmas Eve starts Saturday. We are–indeed–in the Season!

And as promised, today’s special post consists of YOUR stories about how you learned the “truth” about Santa (remember my call for funny stories two weeks ago?). After you read the stories here, post your tale in the comments section below!

And keep the trail of hilarious tales turning:

1) “I was beginning to wonder… Is ‘HE’ real?… But, when my Mom said, ‘Just go look in the closet!’… and finding my Christmas… I was definitely deflated… my balloon had lost its air… I had asked too many times… ‘When is Santa coming?’ …and my joyful , anticipating days of  ‘Santa Claus’ had come to an end with a ‘pop!’… That special feeling of my balloon rising and floating again didn’t come again until ‘I’ became Santa for my own children…”

–Marilyn Griffin, http://babyjill7.wordpress.com/

2) “I was a young, innocent 25-year-old when I learned Santa’s not real. I remember that day as if it were this very morning. I had opened my e-mail in the desperate hope I’d wake to the wonderful news of, at least, a partial request. But instead, I found a grave disappointment waiting for me – a much beloved blog announcing, in no uncertain terms, that Santa wasn’t real! I slammed my laptop shut and rushed through the house in search of fortifying coffee. Once I had a cup safely in hand, I curled up on the kitchen floor and held onto my hope with everything I had. Santa has to be real!”

— Autumn Larrow

3) “During my kindergarten days, one of the ‘super cool’ 6th-grade girls blurted it out to me like a sucker punch in the school yard. I was crushed for a moment, until I realized how cool my parents were to play the game! All of this said, I still believe in Santa Clause … just not in the same literal way.”

— August McLaughlin, http://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com/

4) On Christmas Eve our father would load us five kids into the car and drive us around Appleton, Wisconsin’s fancy neighborhoods to see all the dazzling Christmas lights. While we were out, Santa arrived. Dang! Missed him again.

A few weeks before Christmas when I was 8, we weren’t snooping, but we discovered that our father’s workshop in the basement—which was always padlocked during the holidays— was unlocked. My brother, oldest sister and I went in, and under a white sheet spread across the work bench stood my Barbie Dream House among all the other things waiting to be wrapped and signed by Santa. I opened my dream present and confirmed my suspicion. Yet, I also realized that despite our big family and modest income, our newly revealed Santas always managed, somehow, to be very generous. And that made Christmas even more special.”

— Deborah Anne Gray, Scottsdale, Arizona

5) “When I was 8 years old, I was THAT kid and totally ruined ‘Santa’ for my 3rd-grade friend! I told her that Santa didn’t exist. It devastated her. Her mom had to call my mom, and I kind of got in trouble, even though my mom secretly thought it was funny.”

— Jessica Williams, http://journalofamom.wordpress.com/

Thanks to everyone who contributed, and DON’T FORGET! Keep it going. How did you learn Santa isn’t … well, you know … and post your story to the comments below.

Happy Holidays!