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The War on Hanukkah

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Thank goodness we have generals like Sarah Palin standing, as my friend Barry Farber would say, on the ramparts with a broken bourbon bottle, defending us from all those "angry atheists" who have declared war on Christmas, the ones who want to steal it away from the pro-American part of America. It's truly a shame that Ms. Palin and millions of Christians in America are being harmed by those ignorant God-haters who have the nerve to say things like "happy holidays," clearly contemptuous of the reason for the season.

But who is standing up against the war on Chanukah? Or is it Chanukkah? Hanukkah? Whew, that last one finally passed the spellchecker. See, there isn't even agreement how to spell the darn holiday. And how many people can even tell you what Hanukkah is? It's barely mentioned in the Mishna, the codification of Jewish oral law. Go out on the street and ask anyone who Judah Maccabee is. The name doesn't even sound Jewish. Maccabee? Gotta be Irish, Scottish or Italian.

How many people can tell you why the festivities last eight days? When the Maccabees were rededicating the Second Temple in Jerusalem, they found enough oil for just one day, but it wound up lasting eight days and was considered a miracle. So parents have to buy eight presents for their children, one for each night. In my case, since funds were limited some years, instead of getting one great present like my Christian friends, I received eight lousy gifts. Night one I'd get a sock, and pray that it would be matched with the other one on one of the successive nights. That's right: one-eighth of a gift each night. If that oil had lasted any longer the gifts would have been even punier. And, not to put down the Maccabees or the turmoil they went through, but Hanukkah isn't exactly up there with the birth of the Savior. It's as though Jews had to find a holiday worthy of gift-givng some time around Christmas so we wouldn't feel left out. But that doesn't give us any solace on Christmas Day. We're happy to work in place of our Christian brothers and sisters, but if you're lucky enough to have off that day, it's a movie and Chinese food. That's not just because Jews love movies and Chinese food; it's because movie theaters and Chinese restaurants are the only places open on Christmas.

Christians get trees. Jews get bushes. To stay in good standing with the Tribe, you've got to refer to a Christmas tree as a Hanukkah bush. Christians know that every year, December 25 is a day for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. I dare anyone to tell me when Hanukkah is next year. Or even what year it is. (Hint: It's 5774, but who can keep count?). The Hebrew calendar is so unpredictable that this year it wasn't even Christmas time, and it became Thanksgivakuh. At this rate it will soon be Hanukkah in July.

Christmas brings us great music: Everything from Handel's Messiah to "White Christmas," to "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." And who can ever forget "Jingle Bells" by the Barking Dogs? But what do we have in the way of Hanukkah music? Okay, there's "Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel" and Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song." Bet you can't name a third one. Jews can't go a-caroling. There's hardly anything to a-carol. Movies like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life are all over the place this time of year. I think there's actually an "It's a Wonderful Life" cable channel that plays the thing 24/7. I can't think of one Hanukkah movie. And remember all those Bob Hope Christmas specials? Where was the Jackie Mason Hanukkah Special?

So, you see, while those horrible blue-staters are doing all they can to stop patriots like Sarah Palin and her Tea Party friends from celebrating Christmas, try being a Jew during Christmas in America. And see if you can find anything to eat besides General Tso's chicken.