I don’t know about you, but I usually do not find much joy in stopping by the grocery store after a long day at work. I especially dread it in bitter cold weather, -2 and dropping to be exact. It is this type of scenario that I usually try to avoid. Tonight I failed to avoid such potential misery. Luckily for me there was a little miracle of the season just waiting for me inside the store.
There I was trying not to look too miserable as I slowly walked down the aisles trying to make it to the checkout lanes without slipping on the floor wet from snow and shivering from the arctic air blowing in from the entrance doors when an unusually cheerful young man standing near the cash registers offered to ring up my groceries for me. He had an infectious smile that made me feel a little less grumpy right away. As he chatted away with the usual cashier small talk, I couldn’t help but notice when he bent down that he was wearing a Yamaka. Since I had spent the past several hours at school teaching several grade levels Chanukah songs, I was very aware that it was the 7th night of Chanukah. I wanted to say something, but in this age of political correctness I did not want to offend him or say anything out of place. I was debating in my mind whether or not to say anything when I was called back to the moment by the young man’s voice wishing me a good evening. Without another thought about etiquette I blurted back “Thank you and happy Chanukah to you!” His eyes got big for a moment and he replied “Thanks, and happy Chanukah to you as well!” That moment made my day. Maybe even my week. No one had ever wished me a happy Chanukah before and it felt really good. I was instantly filled with joy. All the sudden it didn’t matter that I wasn’t Jewish or that I didn’t know if there was proper Chanukah etiquette I should follow. The only thing that mattered is that there was a sincere exchange of good will between two people of different backgrounds and traditions. It amazed me that it could feel so good to get well wishes for a holiday I did not personally observe celebrated in a religion I do not practice. I wondered how many times this young man had been wished a merry Christmas as he was growing up and if it made him feel good to receive the well wishes even though he is not a Christian.
What are your experiences in giving and receiving holiday greetings? Have you ever felt awkward or unsure if the greeting was appropriate? Is “happy holidays” to generic or do you prefer to keep it safe? I would like to know your thoughts.
I do not have a dreidel or menorah and I definitely have no idea how to make latkes; but I do intend to have the best 7th night of Chanukah ever. After all, a very nice young man wished me one. Who would have thought stopping in a grocery store on a bitter cold night would change my misery to joy? Now that is a miracle worth celebrating.