Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Circle: Chranukah

A clever and talented perfume maker and blogger, Roxana of Illuminated Perfume, asked me to participate in a holiday round robin Advent-ure. For each day of the Christian Advent, a different blogger creates their own little post about scent and its relationship to the experience of the holiday season. If you enjoy my post, check out the links above to read all the posts in this series!

We are a blended tradition family who celebrate the Christmas of my Episcopalian childhood with the Chanukah of my husband's faith, in a season that we now refer to in our household as Chranukah. Time has smoothed the blend, and I can now sing the Hebrew blessings as artfully as my husband hangs outdoor lights of blue and white, but it wasn't always that way.

In our first holiday season together in one household, it became painfully obvious that the plethora of Christmas decoration swallowed up our menorah, the carols hogged the airwaves, and the cookies, candies, and cakes were like painted harlots vying for attention with a singular plate of latkes. My husband and his sons were woefully uncomfortable.

Our new kitten, aptly named Loca, created the comic relief that smoothed over our tension by perpetually stealing baby Jesus from our nativity scene and leaving Him to be found under pillows, in a shoe, or under a chair. One day Baby Jesus went missing, not to be found, and we had a whole Christmas with a manger scene that lacked Jesus.

The next spring, while tending to the new growth in our gardens, my husband burst into the house, holding the tiny sewn figure, and exclaimed "I found Jesus!" My daughter and I laughed ourselves silly! "Don't tell your mother!" "Don't tell my mother what?" "Don't tell your mother that you found Jesus! She'll think we've converted you!"

This story is told every year as we hang ornaments, and put our nativity scene under the tree. We now eat gingerbread Star of David cookies, and send batches to my in-laws who love them. I've become a great latke chef, and make homemade applesauce, so those smells now evoke our holiday memories: gingerbread, fresh and pungent applesauce, steaming plates of latkes. And Baby Jesus still maintains a slightly earthy scent. What we are all celebrating is not really so different, or so it seems to me. Hope. Miracles. The light that comes into the world and our hearts and cannot be extinguished.


  1. What a very fun and well told story Lee. I love the ending with Jesus being found by your husband in the garden and now smelling of the Earth! It's like a little bit of the Pagan tradition got woven into the mix as well.

  2. Yes, Roxana, I think Loca is a Pagan, and my other cat a Zen Buddhist. We are really a motley crew!

  3. Great stories! Love the one about the baby Jesus disappearing. I have cats, so it does not surprise me at all!

  4. Fantastic storytelling, Lee !

    Beautifully pithy, and very real.
    Just like our lives...
    Many blessings !

  5. i know so many people who've come together with similar stories-- and who've managed like you and your husband-- with humor and collaboration-- it's a beautiful thing to hear your story of your blended holiday celebration-- i think it's a fine example of the harmony that could be achieved on a larger scale between people of different faiths! --"all together under one roof" could be a new line of the pledge of allegiance!

    have a wonderful holiday lee-- so nice to read your post as part of the circle!

  6. you are a great story teller! I feel like i'm at your house!! What a great story. So glad you found Jesus!!! laura xxoo

  7. oh, my son must have been signed in on my computer, but it's me, laura LOL