What’s A Nice Jewish Gay Boy Like Me Doing On A Hanukkah Like This?
To those Jews out there I wish you a magical eight days of wonderment ahead. The whole Hanukkah thing took me unawares this year. I am usually right on top of these things but with all the rest of the mishigas going on in my life somehow I found myself racing the sun as it sank tonight trying desperately to get home to light my menorah before sundown. I didn't make it. Once home I discovered that I didn't have a single Hanukkah candle in the house. What's a nice Jewish gay boy like me doing on a Hanukkah like this? - Don't Get Me Started!
Much like my earlier blog entitled, "Stop The Holidays I Want To Get Off" I desperately want time to stand still for me so that I can have another month before these holidays begin but I have about as much chance of that happening as getting my foreskin back. It was the first night of Hanukkah and I found myself without candles (except for tapers and can you even imagine how long it would take for those to burn down?) and alone. My guy is out of town doing a show and after rushing home to no candles and only two hungry cats, the thought of shlepping to my parents for "festivities" seemed impossible. I decided that I needed to go get candles to try to have some semblance of the holiday and so I went (I know, I have no idea why) to Wal-Mart as I needed a few other things as well and figured I'd take care of it all in one trip. As I filled my cart with much more than I expected to get I wandered around looking for a salesperson who might know where the typical one end cap of an aisle with the Hanukkah merchandise was located. I didn't find anyone but soon found myself in Christmas world where things were green, red and flocked all over. As I was standing there I said to myself, "Shmuck, Wal-Mart cares less about Jews than they do gays, what the hell are you doing here?" And so I spent my sixty dollars and went off on my quest.
As I drove in the rush hour traffic I saw Linens and Things and decided that they just might have candles. The minute I walked in the door there it was, the one sided small display of all things Hanukkah. Someone obviously knew last minute Jews would be looking and in a hurry. (The thing about these Hanukkah displays in stores is that it's either an actual Hanukkah something or other or blue and white. You see stores don't have enough Hanukkah stuff so what they do is put anything that is blue and white on display to make it look as if they have more stuff. A dear friend of mine told me of seeing cookies with Christmas trees on them but because they were in blue and white, they made it to the Hanukkah display.) The good news for Jews is that while they often put out the same stuff from last year that has been sitting in the stock room for a year (I'm still convinced they haven't made gelt since 1964 and that we Jews are buying it year after year to try and finally get it all sold - have you ever eaten the stuff? If you have, you'll know my idea that it's forty years old seems plausible) at this store they had the good taste to have the stuff from last year marked down. I spoke not a word but went straight to my work and bought the sale candles then felt like a jerk. And laying a finger aside of my nose...wait a minute...that's the freaking Night Before Christmas, not my Hanukkah story!
I got home and I lit the candles (saying the prayer in Hebrew I've said for as long as I can remember) wearing a yarmulke my dear friend had made me when I was the "friend of honor" at her wedding. And as I watched the candles burn I ate my dinner and realized that it isn't the holidays that have changed, it's me. We were never the most religious Jews in the world but we observed the major holidays and while I now spend Christmas with my guy's family, it has never felt like my holiday (perhaps because it just isn't). But sitting home alone watching candles burn isn't exactly a holiday either. The thing is that no matter what, it's like being a "Jet" in West Side Story, "When you're a Jew, you're a Jew all the way from your bris on day eight to your last dying day." Something so simple as lighting those candles meant and still means something to me. I was glad I had gone out and gotten them. Watching the light of the candles, there was a calm that came over me. Thoughts of my brother and I opening our first night "shared" gift (which was always a game we could share, you know, Clue, Monopoly or the like) and one of our very own gifts (my brother would get some intricate model and I'd get a Mr. Microphone that never seemed to work with the radio the way they showed on the commercial) and the memories of those times filled my empty home. As the Hanukkah holiday continues this year, the miracle I'm hoping for is a little like the miraculous oil so long ago that lasted eight nights when there was only enough for one night. I'm hoping that this feeling of calm and happiness will last for eight nights instead of just one, illuminating my heart with warmth the way the candles illuminate the room. And that's what a nice Jewish gay boy like me is doing on a Hanukkah like this - Don't Get Me Started!
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