On Sunday morning I slept in late, went to yoga, and strolled on over to my local bagel shop for my typical weekend nosh. Upon arriving at Zucker’s, I noticed the sidewalk sign adorned in chalk with “Happy Hanukkah!” above an impressive list of Hanukkah-themed catering options.
I was caught off guard. It wasn’t Hanukkah? It couldn’t be Hanukkah. Could it be Hanukkah?? I looked at my i-Cal. OMG, it is the first day Hanukkah!! In the midst of a post-Thanksgiving haze and a mad sprint to tie up projects at work before the new year, Hanukkah completely crept up on me! I mean, I guess it makes sense since Hanukkah has always been less important to me than the High Holidays that come in the fall. Hanukkah, though still an important Jewish holiday, has always felt a little bit over-hyped, like American Jews’ answer to Christmas mania. But still, I couldn’t believe how wholly unprepared I was for the holiday. I didn’t even have a menorah! All I had was a pair of wrapped Hanukkah socks I’d bought from J. Crew for my brother!
My day was already booked with other non-Hanukkah-related plans, so it was too late to do anything to celebrate night one. I got home Sunday evening after an afternoon and dinner spent with non-Jewish friends (who also must not have realized that Hanukkah had begun). And though possibly the farthest thing from a menorah, I lit a single candle in my apartment (grapefruit scented, no less!) and called up my parents on FaceTime to recite the blessing together. It honestly sort of worked. Then, I promptly texted several of my Jewish friends to make some holiday plans for the rest of the week–tomorrow night I’ll be eating matzo ball soup with a friend at 2nd Ave Deli, Wednesday night I’ll be eating latkes at a friend’s place on the Upper West Side, and next weekend a friend (the one I have plenty of Jewish traditions with that I wrote about here) is coming to visit and we’ll surely find more candles and recite the blessings for the culminating nights together.
Happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate! Whether it crept up on you this year too, or you’ve been frying latkes for days – how do you celebrate the holiday? What are your traditions?