Every year it seems we decorate just a little bit more for Chanukah. My kids love it and frankly it helps make not celebrating Christmas a little bit easier on them. We didn’t do much before we had children – most Jewish people celebrate Chanukah as a kid’s holiday and the grown ups will often not exchange presents. You always light the menorah and maybe have an extra, electronic one, to put in the window.
Having kids changes everything, of course, so during the long Thanksgiving weekend, we took out the Chanukah decorations box. I like the sentimental stuff, but Slade leans to the side of silly. Last year, while I was ordering Chanukah picture frames, music and little teddy bears, he added a hat to our order. I’m trying like crazy to find a picture of it – we got it at Oriental Trading Company, but they must have discontinued it. It’s a really funny, cute blue cap with a felt menorah that stands up on top of it.
This year, Lea found the hat and claimed it. There’s nothing like a six year old’s enthusiasm for the holidays. The big hat looked so funny on her little head, with the menorah "candles" sticking up – I told her she looked like a moose. Not just a moose, Lea replied, she was… The Chanukah Moose! She jumped into the role, creating a voice, a run and a backstory (A little girl who loves Chanukah and loves moose. How could her dream of combing the two be fulfulled? In comes the Chanukah Moose! And they all live happily every after.)
We were having so much goofy fun with it, that I actually thought for a moment of taking one of those light up reindeer people put on their lawns, sticking some big moose antlers on it, and decorating it with blue and white lights. That thought suddenly reminded me of a family in our old neighborhood.
We used to live across the street from one of these guys who would use every inch of their lawn as an electronic Christmas palette. Light up elves, moving reindeer – you know these people. I love Christmas lights – but this guy’s problem wasn’t his excess – it was his attitude. Every time he saw us he would comment about "your people." It was usually sort of benign toward us, but it was pretty creepy. As in, "I haven’t had much of a problem with your people but it’s those (other minority race/religion, etc) you have to watch out for."
So every December, Slade would look out on our neighbor’s electric kool aid acid quarter acre and threaten to buy an enormous electronic menorah to put in our yard, right across the street. We moved to our new house four and a half years ago and sort of forgot the whole thing. Until now.
That’s because he found one. An enormous blow-up menorah, like those crazy pumpkins you see on Halloween. Or I guess the big Santas people have now. He ordered it about two weeks ago. I do think it’s funny, but I have to admit I’m pretty embarrassed about the idea of it perched in our yard.
Seems I need to get over that. Last night, as I turned onto our street, there it was, larger than life on my front yard. An eight foot tall menorah – lit up like a Christmas tree (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Benny yelled, "Mommy look at that!" I said something like, "Yes, your father is very silly." But he had to be thinking of his big sister, not his father, as he yelled, "Mommy, it’s a Chanukah moose!"
And just like that a new holiday tradition is born.