It was a happy Chanukalulu

I’ve noticed that the media has coined various clever, inclusive titles for the holiday season such as Christmahanakwanzaka or Knishmas. I’d like to add one of my favorites to the mix, “Chanukalulu.”

While it does not necessarily include other holidays, I think it is a nice way to describe celebrating Chanukah in Honolulu. And I have to say that this year it was a totally a Chanukalulu celebration, especially last weekend. I might even venture to say it was a Chanukapalooza!

We began lighting the candles on the first night, but since it was a school night we kept it pretty mellow. I chose the Menorah my mom gave me, the Menorah she gave my daughter, the Menorah my  husband’s mother gave him and the Menorah she gave his daughter.

Our kids get gifts, but we tried to keep it simple this year. The party really started on Friday evening.

The annual Temple Emanu-El and SJS Chanukah potluck dinner and family service brought the congregation and school families together for food, fun and worship. We lit the candles together as a community and celebrated the third night of Chanukkah and Shabbat together. It was nice to  connect in mutual celebration.

On Saturday we went to the Rock of Ages concert at the shul featuring a local band Flux Capacitor.

It was a fundraiser for the School of Jewish Studies and a night out for the family. How often does one get to go to a rock concert at the Synagogue.? The kids danced, the grown ups danced, the band danced.

The final activity in what our Temple President has referred to as a “Trifecta” was the SJS Macabiah games on Sunday morning. The kids played Jewpardy, dreidle and a host of other games as well as ate latkes in the name of Chanukah celebration.

By Monday morning I had what I like to refer to as a Chanukah hangover. We truly celebrated to our limit. Of course we lit the candles as a family  at home until the last night, but our supercharged celebration was concentrated over the weekend.

What I like about it is that it did not focus on presents and getting stuff. Instead, it brought together  our family and our community in mutual celebration. We enjoyed the company of friends new and old and shared the rituals and traditions of our faith that bond us during this holiday season.

Our Rabbi sent us a message the other day and at the end  it said, “May the lights of Chanukah continue to burn brightly within us and bring us and the whole world wisdom, inspiration and peace.”

Now that is the true meaning of Chanukalulu.

Target brings a miracle of Chanukah to Kapolei

I have been holding off on writing my annual diatribe against all of the retail establishments who have had their Christmas merchandise on display  since before Halloween. I am amazed (appalled)  at how the Fall season has some how tragically become an almost three-month countdown to the biggest money-making event capitalists could possibly conceive: Christmas.

I even thought of adding a new category to this blog entitled “Kvetching” and lead off with my favorite seasonal complaint mentioned in the previous paragraph. But stuff just kept getting in the way.

I’ve been busy with my family and Rotary and my new job. I haven’t been shopping a whole lot. And I did not want to make that particular complaint a signature issue of a blog that I’ve created to explore how my unique experiences connect with the larger community on the island, on the mainland, across other oceans and definitely other religions.

I still like the idea of creating a category called “Kvetching.” Everybody needs the chance to whine and complain now and then.

Today I am not going to complain. Just the opposite. I am going to kvell (Maybe that should be a category as well. Maybe I should rename all of my categories with Yiddish titles.)

Something great happened yesterday and I am of the sneaking suspicion that it is my own very personal reward for exercising a bit of self-restraint. I have not complained too much about the fact that Christmas trees that have been subtly emerging over the past month or the “Holiday” decorations and events that are named with such political correctness, but adorned with absolutely no diversity whatsoever.

I have simply rushed passed them and when my children were in tow, murmured minimal mumblings about the silliness of it all. I have not gotten worked up at all.

Until yesterday. We stopped by Target on our way to the IPA Scholastic Book Fair to get some supplies for the Ko Olina Resort & Marina Thanksgiving Outreach we are participating in today. The Rotary Club of Kapolei will be serving 200 meals at the US Vets facility at Kalaeloa.

That’s when it happened. We were in the greeting card section when my younger girl joyfully exclaimed, “Chanukah decorations!”

I turned to look at what she was talking about and I saw it too, with my very own eyes, Chanukah decorations. It was not just one or two items shoved on a bottom shelf as a token nod to people who might be in search of something else in life besides Christmas. No, it was an entire section that was strategically placed at the end of the aisle to attract our attention and encourage us to buy, buy buy. And I did. There were plates, napkins, menorahs, dreidles, decorations and candles.

I was thrilled and my daughter was too.

When I first moved to Hawaii my mother had to send me stuff from her Temple gift shop in Kansas City. She’d send me Chanukah gelt and small dreidles to take to the kids’ classrooms. She sent  plates and napkins so we could have holiday appropriate celebrations in our home.

Whenever there was a Jewish holiday, Kapolei Safeway would display the matzah and chicken soup boxes as if that’s what we eat on a ritual basis.

Over the years I have been able to purchase what I need at our own Temple gift shop and have done a lot of online shopping as well. I always support the Innisbrook gift wrap fundraiser at IPA because they have Chanukah wrapping paper and gift bags.

Yesterday I supported Target. We bought plates, napkins, decorations and even some candles that we don’t need. If they are going to give us a whole section, I am going to shop there–whole heartedly.

My husband described it in  capitalist terms, if I show a demand they will offer the supply!

I don’t know how long those items were there. Perhaps they went up in October as well. But since the first night of Chanukah is on December 1 this year, I saw last night as excellent timing. A few weeks before the holiday, right around Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get “In the spirit.”

It’s like our own little Chanukah miracle, right in the middle of the Kapolei Target, offering a spirit of good will for the season. This  will certainly buoy me down the aisles of that store and others with a much smaller kvetch on my tongue and a good dose of holiday cheer in my heart.