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

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.