I decided to celebrate Hanukkah this past December. I’m not Jewish but I didn’t consider that a deal breaker. I’ve been through over forty Christmases and haven’t been a Christian for any of them. Besides, conservatives were saying that a war was being waged on Christmas and if it turned out to be anything like the war in Iraq, I wanted no part of it.
The only problem was that I didn’t know anything about Hanukkah other than that it lasted eight days and involved candles. Fortunately, my girlfriend Betty was in the know and willing to help. She tried teaching me a suitable Hebrew prayer:
Betty: Baruch atah adonai, eloheyno melech ha’olam. Asher kidshanu bemitzvotav, vitzeevanu le-hadliknair, shel Hannukah.
Me: Aren’t you worried you’ll conjure up Cthulhu, reciting that shit?
OK, so that part went badly. When she stayed off the subject of prayer, however, I was a regular star pupil. I learned about the Maccabees (who were not Scottish), the writing on and spinning of the dreidel, latkes, and how the gag factor of gefilte fish can be reduced by slathering on the horseradish.
I didn’t know if Hanukkah is supposed to be a big festive holiday (Betty tells me it didn’t used to be a big holiday at all until Jewish kids started bellyaching about how the goyim were raking in the Xmas prezzies and they weren’t getting diddly) but we decided it would be fun to invite a bunch of friends over to my place and party like it was 5760.
Of course, we’d have to have a well-stocked bar. Again, I wasn’t sure if this was in strict compliance with custom but it didn’t seem to be a major violation either. Also, our friends are drunks. Some are Jewish drunks. Some are gentile drunks. None are terribly religious one way or another, which goes a long way to explain why they’re our friends. They would come to the party out of friendship. They would stay till we were out of booze.
All was going swimmingly kosher until I got it into my head that there should be a Hanukkah ham. Nothing says “Happy Hanukkah” like honey-baked ham, I reasoned. I often do my best thinking after my fourth drink. Still, I thought it would be a good idea to mention the ham to Betty before I went out and bought the thing since I have no real culture of my own and am therefore often oblivious to the feelings of those that do. If her reaction were going to be “Dude, you’re wiping your ass with over two thousand years of sacred tradition,” it would be good to hear that sooner rather than later.
She loved the idea. Invites to the “Holiday in Hambodia Hanukkah Feast” were emailed to all our drunken friends.
On the night of the party, we had a “Happy Hannukah” banner hanging above a table with a menorah, a dreidel, matzoh balls, gefilte fish, Hannukah gelt, and of course, booze. Our friend Dr. Kim was frying up latkes in the kitchen. There was only one thing missing: the ham.
I had ordered the ham online and arranged to have it delivered to our friend Sarah since Betty and I were both working that day. After waiting all day and seeing neither hide nor hair of ham, she called to relay the bad news. I pitched a regrettable hissy (not directed at Sarah though I doubt she wanted to hear it regardless) and then called UPS customer service to find out what was going on. They assured me that the ham was somewhere.
It arrived the following Monday.
So for the party, Betty ended up ordering pizza (with ham) so our treyf needs were attended to. Dr Kim’s latkes were yummy and Sarah was forgiving of having to wait for a nonextistent ham until eight o’clock at night. My first Hannukah (now dubbed “Hamukkah” by Dr. Kim) was a rousing success.
Next year though, I don’t think I’ll put much effort into planning any Hannukah festivities. I’ll be too busy partying with the Church of Satan this coming December. We all need a plan and mine is to use an accelerated Sammy Davis Jr. timeline as a blueprint for living. Wish me luck.