The other day I saw a Tumblr post that read, “I don’t care that it’s not Hanukkah yet. I’m kind of excited for it… I dunno why. I think I just want to play dreidel and eat gelt.”
The following is an open letter to the person who made that post.
Two days before Hanukkah began, you said that you didn’t know why you were excited for Hanukkah. I’m excited, too. Like you, I want to play dreidel and eat gelt. I’m also looking forward to hanging out with my family, and to saying the prayers and listening to the music that mean so much to me and only apply this time of year. I’m excited that another year has gone by and brought me to this fun, familiar holiday again.
If your experience on Tumblr is anything like mine, then some of the people you follow are Christian. And if your Tumblr dashboard looks anything like mine, then the Christian people you follow have been posting about being excited for Christmas since Halloween, two whole months ago. Two months before Christmas, my computer screen filled with pictures of colored lights, lengthy gift wish lists, and remixes of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Over the course of those two months, the world outside the internet has been just as full of people expressing their excitement about Christmas. The radio called out carols. My neighbors in every direction decked out their houses with wreaths and glowing candy canes. Wal-Mart practically overflowed with red and green decor.
This letter is going to hit the internet after Christmas and mid-Hanukkah, but speaking from the perspective of two days before both of them (because this year Hanukkah starts on December 24th), it makes complete sense to be excited about a holiday before it starts. Holidays are great! They’re days in which society sets aside its usual demands and says, “Go ahead—take a break, eat good food, enjoy your community’s traditions, and make the people around you happy!” Anyone who likes a holiday and who has every reason to think it’ll be just as good this year as it was in past years has every reason to be excited about it. This is true no matter who you are, what community you belong to, or what holiday it is.
Who says you have to wait until the day of something in order to be excited about it? If the Christians can be excited about Christmas two months beforehand, there is no reason why you can’t be excited about Hanukkah two days beforehand. And if you are excited, why question it? If you like Hanukkah, then you like Hanukkah. If something makes you happy every single year, let it. There are plenty of reasons not to be excited in the year, and the things that excite us are precious.
And if somebody tells you that you shouldn’t be excited about a holiday, walk away and find someone to play dreidel with. Remember, your community is everywhere; the Jewish people are widespread and long-lived. I for one am excited to celebrate the Festival of Lights with you!