The Night before Christmas

When stereotypical myths hide the good

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.

Our feet were all snug in their warm woolen socks

While we dreamed about blintzes and bagels and lox.

Yes, Wifey and I are a couple of Jews,

(I hope you’re not shocked or appalled at this news)

Because Navidad can be tough on a Jew

I’d like to take time to explain it to you.

The Jewish High Holy Days aren’t in December

Which folks who aren’t Jewish find hard to remember.

We welcomed the New Year, observed Yom Kippur

Way back in the fall, look it up to be sure.

So Hanukkah’s merely a minor occasion

About Jews resisting Hellenic invasion.

It really and truly has nothing to do

With the birthday of, well, I’ll just say, You Know Who.

While the gentiles are having their holiday fun

Jews tend to lie low and tune out till it’s done.

It’s not that we’re Grinches, it’s just not our thing

Those aren’t our carols, he wasn’t our king.

The TV commercials for products galore

The holiday music inside every store

Can get overwhelming but protest is futile

Like going to Dixie to sing Yankee Doodle.

So we and our friends who are Jewish like us

Simply try to steer clear of the holiday fuss.

Our Jewish traditions are simple and sweet

And often are focused on stuff that we eat.

We sit and reflect upon Hanukkah’s theme

Of freedom from tyrants — a well-cherished dream.

Where no one controls what you think or believe

Or who you can love (even Adam and Steve).

And there on the mantel the candles burn bright

In our dear menorah, each Hanukkah night.

Of the eight wondrous days that are usually through

Before 12/25, but this year that’s not true.

While Hanukkah’s usually over much sooner

As Hebrews mark time by a method that’s lunar

The secular calendars most folks are using

Are solar, so that’s why it’s sometimes confusing.

Now back to the night I was talking about

After all of the Hanukkah candles burned out.

The two of us, out of our clothes and our shoes

Had just snuggled in for a long winter’s snooze.

We had climbed into bed in a very good mood

Enhanced by traditional Hanukkah food.

We’d fried up some latkes and drained off the grease

And ate them with gusto, at least nine apiece.

We ate chicken soup, which we served with a ladle

And later we  played with a fast-spinning dreidel.

Then after our dinner, how happy we felt

As we peeled the foil wrap off our Hanukkah gelt.

I savored the chocolate and savored the light

And savored the fact this was not the last night.

Tomorrow we’ll light our menorah again

And reflect on our ancestors from way back when.

Sometimes being Jewish is like being queer

Especially now at this time of the year.

When something about you is not understood

When stereotypical myths hide the good.

While most of the people who fit in the norm

Might not even notice that we don’t conform

And othes object when we don’t play along

They resent who we are and make who we are wrong.

But when you’re connected with allies and friends

The stereotyping and prejudice ends.

The people who know and respect who you are

Appreciate you and don’t think you’re bizarre.

That’s all the more reason to reach out and say

Not everyone’s waiting for Santa today.

Remember that everywhere all the world round

Many more types of people and customs are found.

Diversity strengthens our cultural quilt

That shows being different is just how we’re built.

So do what you do with your dear ones nearby

And just be yourself, go ahead, don’t be shy.

I thing about that with each candle we light

And stand in the glow of them all burning bright.

Thank goodness for Maccabees who made it through

‘Cause that is exactly what I plan to do.

So the night before Christmas I cuddled my wife

Who agreed we are living a wonderful life.

Let me put out the word as we snuggle in tight

Happy Hanukkah friends, and to all a good night.

Sally Sheklow has been a part of the Eugene community since 1972 and is a member of the WYMPROV! comedy troupe. Her column began at EW in 1999.


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