The tyranny of the calendar

The tyranny of the calendar

It’s as if the year were telescoped: November is fast upon us, and with it Election Day, Yitzhak Rabin’s secular yahrzeit, Kristallnacht, Veterans Day, and that secular adaptation of Sukkot, Thanksgiving. By then we may be yearning for a break from days to be marked – but then Chanukah begins, on the first December night.

We’ve already heard the complaints that “Chanukah is too early this year.”

But of course it is not; it falls when it’s supposed to on the Jewish calendar – and that’s good (even though we may feel rushed).

There’s no confusion in the public mind – and in the minds of impressionable children who crave a Clausian visit and an avalanche of gifts – with that other winter holiday. We can light our candles, serve traditional treats, tell our children their history, give them modest gifts (all right, maybe not so modest), and sing our songs and count our blessings. Major among them is that our minor but beloved festival is not dwarfed by Christmas – nor do we feel a push to bloat it past its purposes: to celebrate freedom and the survival of the Jewish people.

It will be here before we – gasp! – get a chance to catch our breaths.