People often ask me if I am having a "Chanukah Bush" in my house this year. As I've no doubt said before ad nauseaum, I have no idea what such an object might be, in terms of the practice of actual Judaism. I do know factually that they are small trees ornamented with Star of David ornaments and the like. They are more popular in the South where perhaps the pressure to have some piece of festive shrubbery in December is too great to resist if you still want to be a member of the Wisteria Lane Homeowners Association.
That being said, I do want to point out my selection for this year's theologically incorrect, yet festive nonetheless, Chanukah Bush:
Gov. Bush Lights Candles On Menorah In His Office
POSTED: 4:24 pm EST December 20, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Governor Jeb Bush is marking the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah by lighting candles on a menorah in his office. Rabbis from around Florida joined with the governor to light the candles Tuesday. This is the sixth year Governor Bush has participated in the Hanukkah celebration. He lit candles in a two-foot sterling silver menorah presented to him as a gift in 1999. The rabbis say Tuesday's menorah lighting in the governor's office sends a message to the people of Florida about religious tolerance.
Hanukkah begins at sunset on Sunday.
Does anyone else see the joke here? How did this strategy session go, for both the rabbis and the governor's office?
Rabbis: "Okay, we all know there is no way he is leaving his house to light our candles on Christmas Day, but we don't want to dissuade him from doing something to acknowledge it. Feh. So Tuesday it is."
Team Jeb: "Okay, Governor Bush, you need to be seen as supportive to the very large Jewish population of Florida. You will therefore publicly light the candles on the menorah surrounded by several Rabbis. The only problem is that Chanukah starts at sundown on Christmas Day, which we all know just ain't gonna happen personally or media-wise. So how about we do the whole Jew thing, but just do it 4 days early?! Lighting the candles on the actual holiday vs. lighting them a week before the holiday...Same thing as lighting a Christmas tree, right?"
Wrong. You light up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving (at least my neighbors do). You light each Chanukah candle on the night you're supposed to light it. It's not like you're more festive if you just light 'em up and keep 'em lit for the entire month! In all seriousness, why not just wait and light the candles on, like, the 5th night of Chanukah? At least it would be the actual holiday.
Besides, it's not like the 12 Days of Christmas where you'd rather get the Ten Maids a Milking than the Two Turtle Doves. All 8 nights actually count!