My grandson is a perfect example of why this country is called a melting pot. His genetic makeup includes Hispanic, German, Italian and Austrian. He’s got a Jewish branch of the family a Methodist branch and a Pentecostal branch. There are family members who are very conservative right wing, and those of us who are hard-core liberals. He seems, as most children do, blissfully unaware of any differences. He just loves his family and friends.
Last week I thought it would be nice for him to learn a bit more about his Jewish ancestors by celebrating Hanukkah. I have some memories of celebrating Hanukkah many years ago, in New York City. I also found that you can Google anything, including recipes for brisket! AOL has a radio station that plays a stream of Hanukkah songs. Ironically, the commercials were for Christmas deals at major retailers. I asked Carter if he had ever heard any of the songs (Adam Sandler’s “classic” doesn’t count!), and he said he had not. When I asked him if he’s sure he’s never heard them when he turns on the radio or TV or walks into a store any day between Halloween and New Year’s Day, a look of understanding showed on his face.
When I sat the hot, crispy latkes on the table Carter, true to his Puerto Rican lineage, asked for the Goya hot sauce. He also hot sauced the brisket. He decided that he loves Hannukah food, with a slight Hispanic flavor.
We discussed how people who celebrate differently do not covet our holidays, nor do they wish to stop our celebrations. They have their own beliefs and their own traditions, which they hold as dear to them as we do ours. Most of all, we talked about the common link. That is the spirit of this season. My daughter invited an old friend of hers, who is Jewish. He gave his perspective of what it was like to grow up in a predominantly Christian area. Very different than when I went to New York and as someone who was raised in a Christian home, found myself to be the minority. Mostly I found that the beauty of another religion fascinated me. I saw much of the same of what I experienced at home, which was family and friends coming together. They didn’t long for a Christmas tree any more than my family wished to be spinning dreidels. This should be a time when we put aside our differences and join in the wish for peace on Earth and goodwill to all. No matter how we choose to say it or what language we are speaking, all that matters is that we somehow find the willingness to be kind and respectful to one another.