So there I was, driving around listening to some of my favorite Christmas CD's - Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, heck, even Harry Connick, Jr. and I had to chuckle as they sang songs penned by Irving Berlin and Frank Loesser. Yes, we people of the tribe love nothing more than to write about, sing about, and by golly, partake of the holiday known as Christmas, a day celebrating yet another member of the tribe's birth.
As a child, I desperately wanted to share in the Christmas festivities, but I was hesitant to sing carols that hailed Jesus as my Lord and Savior, so sure was I that the God of the Old Testament would smite me with a bolt of lightning the first chance He got. Yes, there was more than enough guilt and shame to go around as I dutifully ate my latkes and lit the menorah. But the Christmas allure did not diminish with time, nor was I smited, or smitten, or whatever the correct tense of that word is.
I didn't care about the reason, I just wanted some colored lights festively hung anywhere and everywhere. So when I moved into my own apartment, I bought some. I could have gotten a tree, because (for all you misinformed Fox News reporters) the tree is a PAGAN tradition, not Christian. But I just stuck with the lights.
Of course, never having hung Christmas lights in my life, I had no idea how exactly to string them up all over my apartment. For several years, clear packing tape and precarious balancing along bookcase and door frame moldings were my method of choice. I also draped them over my keyboard, atop my TV and really, wherever I could. It took years for someone to finally tell me that they made clear hooks that adhere to your walls but leave no marks afterward that make light hanging not only infinitely easier, but far more attractive. Hey, I came late to the game, remember?
I would turn off all the lights except the Christmas ones, and sit reveling in the glow. One year I bought pink lights, which were, sadly, a much better thought in my mind than in tacky actuality. I also find eggnog to be a much better thought than in actuality, but I suppose that's just a taste thing.
As I contemplated the actual deeper meaning of Christmas - the birth of the Messiah, and the conditions under which that birth took place, it occurred to me that the common theme between that and the Festival of Lights is the possibility of miracles. And that exists for all faiths. The mystery and awe of seeing that which is seemingly impossible come to pass is universal, and should draw us together, because none of us are the authors of miracles, but all of us, at one time or another, bear witness to them.
Einstein said, "There are two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." I am inclined toward the latter.
So as I light my menorah this evening...before watching the SNL primetime Christmas special, I will be celebrating a Season of Miracles, both large and small. I will be on the lookout for the good in people, the unexpected beauty available in any given moment, and most of all, I will stay present to the miracle that is Love in a world that desperately needs it.
So Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas. Peace and Blessings to everyone.
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