One of my all-time favorite people stopped by the House on the Hill today, and as usual, he did not come empty handed. “You can take the Modern Philosopher out of New York, but you cannot take the New York out of the Modern Philosopher!”
Hanukkah Harry and I go way back, and every year since I moved from Brooklyn, he has come to visit me right before Hanukkah, either in California or Maine, and brought me my favorite foods from home. This year it was a dozen bagels from Bagels on the Square, a gallon of split pea soup from Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger, fifty BBQ wings from Pluck U, and a pepperoni pizza from Bay Ridge Pizza.
After telling me how great I looked (he has always been a flatterer…) and then refusing to eat any of the food he’d brought me (“I’ve got a big night coming up and I can’t be gassy!”), Harry immediately got down to business. “Hanukkah’s tomorrow, and still nothing about the holiday on this fancy blog of yours. I read all about Christmas and your Catholic beliefs, but where’s the love for my people? Are you telling me the Jews don’t read this little blogosphere of yours?”
He said it with a smile and more than enough guilt to make me want to spend the entire night blogging about Hanukkah, but he was right. This blog has been very pro-Santa and has sent no love Harry’s way. “I bet you Santa didn’t shlep all your favorite noshes up this big hill to your front door!”
He had me there, but that wasn’t enough. He had to pull out the big guns. “Isn’t that beautiful girl of yours one of mine?” Sigh. Yes, the woman who owns my heart is Jewish. (I’m so sorry for ignoring Hanukkah on the blog, Sweetheart. If you want, I can return all of the Christmas presents I’ve bought you…)
I promised Harry as many words as he needed for me to make it up to him. What did he want me to write about Hanukkah? After a long pause, which he extended by deciding he would have an everything bagel after all, and then extended even more so by having me toast it for him, he finally replied. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what you should write. You’re the funny one in the fancy toga. Can’t you come up with something witty to get all the kids on the internet tweeting about Hanukkah?”
Oh, Harry, if only it were that easy. This led into a lengthy debate…three bagels, a dozen wings, two bowls of split pea soup, and four slices of pizza long to be exact… (“To hell with the gas…I’ll be out in the fresh air!”) about how Christmas has all the iconic characters and stories and TV specials, while Hanukkah really just has him, one catchy, but quickly annoying Adam Sandler song (“Don’t even get me started on the movie!!!”), and a complicated back story that really doesn’t make you want to get up and deck the halls.
“So maybe Hanukkah is about faith, and family and remembering what’s really important,” I suggested to Harry.
“You mean all the things Christmas wants to be, but isn’t?” Harry excitedly replied. That really made him perk up. So much so that he had another bowl of soup.
In the end, we concluded that Hanukkah was about what was taking place between us at the House on the Hill. Old friends getting together to talk about the good old days, dream about the future, and share amazing food.
I promised to make an effort to write more about Hanukkah next year, but Harry just waved me off and gave me a comforting pat on the back. “Next year, I’m going to bring you that prosciutto bread you really love. Maybe you can have the girl here next year when I visit. You know, so for once the Jews have the majority.”
What do you think, Modern Philosophers? Should I have spent some more time cranking out Deep Thoughts on Hanukkah? Can you forgive me for writing about what I know? Do any of you have a Hanukkah story you’d like to share? Who wants to come over and help me finish all this great food?
To all my Jewish friends out there, especially the one who makes me weak in the knees, have a Happy Hanukkah!