Associate Editor reflects on life changes during the holidays


Blake Loria

Hanukkah starts Sunday Dec. 22 and ends Monday Dec. 30, with Christmas on the fourth day of Hanukkah, Wednesday Dec. 25.

The candlelight of the silver menorah reflects in the blue and white ornaments on the Christmas tree. The bright lights on the branches complement the fire, signifying the alignment of the traditionally Christian holiday Christmas and the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

Hanukkah begins Sunday, Dec. 22 and ends Monday, Dec. 30, which coincides with Christmas, Wednesday, Dec. 25. According to Time, such an event occurs roughly every 30 years, and with the addition of a new month to the Hebrew Calendar in 2016, Hanukkah falling on the date of Christmas will become more common, with the holiday occurring in December and January rather than the prior established November and December.

Along with the timing of the two holidays, the way I celebrate them are changing.”

— Blake Loria, 11

While researching, I discovered this is sometimes referred to as “Chrismukkah.” Although this is admittedly a satirical find, originating on the FX show “The OC,” the combination of Christmas and Hanukkah perfectly symbolizes the changes in my life. Hanukkah is celebrated because in a time of war and sadness, God gifted a miracle to the Jews, showing he stilled loved and cared for humanity, and with this sentiment, the hardships and welfare of my life have come into focus.

My family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, and usually, my mother, brother, sister and I visit our grandparents’ house on the first night of Hanukkah to receive a bag of gifts each, then on Christmas we will have our own gathering at our house and open presents from our mother. However, along with the timing of the two holidays, the way I celebrate them are changing.

Roughly three months ago, my grandmother went to see her doctor because her feet were swollen. Her doctor told her she needed to go the hospital right away because she was having issues with her heart. Three months, one surgery and four heart-restarts later, my grandmother is on oxygen and getting worse. She had always been there for me and looked after my siblings and me when times were tough, so this year I decided to reverse our roles by giving back to my grandparents.

I spent an entire day one weekend cooking meals for them with my mother: meatloaf, enchiladas, lasagna and chicken and broccoli casserole. My grandmother used to bake Christmas bread for us every year, and I loved when she would give it to us with a nice meal. This year she was not able to muster the energy to make the bread for us, so she instead bought us a box of Bauducco Pannetone, an Italian Christmas bread, and while it was not the same, the love and importance of the gift was still prevalent. So, being able to provide her with lunch and dinner is a way of showing my appreciation and love in a way that means more than words can describe.

Christmas and Hanukkah have always been a time about family for me, and that sentiment has never been more true than now.”

— Blake Loria, 11

Another change to come is how I am celebrating Christmas. On a typical Christmas, my family will gather in the living room Christmas Eve and open a present or two, proceeding with opening the rest of our gifts Christmas day. When I was young we often couldn’t afford presents, so when my siblings and I gather together and unwrap the gifts there is always excitement and gratitude as we cherish the holiday together. However, this year my family plans on traveling to Austin Christmas day to visit my older brothers, who I have not seen in years. We are going to open our presents on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas day so we can focus on our family, and that is the real gift of the holiday. Christmas and Hanukkah have always been a time about family for me, and that sentiment has never been more true than now.

Overall, the harmonization of these two winter holidays represents the changes in my life. And while this could be justified as a coincidence, I believe it is a sign I am changing and growing as a person, and God does indeed care and love me. Hanukkah started as a way for God to show his love and loyalty to humanity and the Jews, and for me, this holiday season will be spent loving and bonding with my family.