Hanukkah starts Sunday night.
The holiday meant a lot to me as a child and less and less in the ensuing years. Now, I mostly worry about finding enough candles for my menorah to get me through eight nights. I do love that the holiday presents me with the opportunity to find ways to celebrate community with people I cherish.
Hanukkah’s ever-shifting position on the Gregorian calendar often means it overlaps with Christmas, which is… complicated. I still don’t know what to make of the fact that U.S. consumer culture has made this minor Jewish holiday a major symbol of the religion I hold dear, even though I have benefitted from Hanukkah’s proximity to Christmas; I can’t think of any other circumstances in which I would have received a Nintendo 64 in December when I was in middle school and had maybe $17 to my name. As an adult, I have my misgivings about attempts to make this holiday “Jewish Christmas,” but I see little fault in the holiday’s ability to bring people together as the days get colder.
We could all use that right about now.