I’ve always felt that the colloquial term for Hannukah, ‘The Festival of Lights’, was a bit misleading.
Especially as I was raised in Orange County.
Allow me to clarify.
Orange County, a burgeoning neo christian/neo conservative metropolis just an hour South of Los Angeles, isn’t exactly known for its Jewish population.
Growing up, we were the only ones on our block.
So come winter, the buildings were lit up with yuletide cheer.
The neighborhood became a dazzling visual nutcracker of bright colors. A cornucopia of bulbs in every size and shape. Inflatable snow people illuminated the lawns of our neighbors whilst the fake snow frosted their sun decks. Jolly fat men exploded off roofs, elves cohabited with reindeer, garage doors became large presents wrapped in oversized novelty bows and the baby Jesus was born in the makeshift manger of nearly a dozen front lawns. This hyperbolic cavalcade of merriment was nearly all encompassing save for one house. Come December, you would think its occupants were on vacation or perhaps evicted were it not for the dimly lit, small pvc pipe menorah in the front yard, and candelabra in the window.
I guess when my ancestors were naming the holiday, they didn’t count on the birth of Jesus or the invention of the light bulb.