I got asked if I was Jewish again.
I mean, in fairness, I had gone on this long thing about being Kosher and then being excited about Hanukkah, and I can see maybe if you squinted really hard without the knowledge that I just happen to be an extraordinary shiksa goddess, it could be a little bit confusing, but alas, it required me to have that whole conversation where people look at me strangely and nod their heads slowly and force smiles while saying, "Oh that's nice, dear."
For those not in the know, I became fascinated with Jewish culture about six years ago during my junior year of high school while in a comparative religions class. The teacher had incorporated the most sacred of Jewish artifacts in our curriculum (which is to say, "Fiddler on the Roof") and an overwhelming love for the culture and the religion has grown ever since. Obviously, as a Christian, there are some logistical conflicts with me actually being Jewish, but I have a crazy reverence for the traditions (it's okay if you sang that in your head. I did too.) and beliefs of Judaism, and as a result have adopted some of them into my personal life.
Some of them make no sense. For example, before I went vegetarian, I made a solid effort to go Kosher, which admittedly was pretty touch and go until I actually cut out meat. There is literally no reason for me to go Kosher other than that I darn well felt like it. And so I did.
But I mentioned Hanukkah that day and struggled very hard to come up with a good reason for my festive demeanor that would not prompt this poor, unsuspecting individual to commit me to the loony bin. So I took a moment to actually think about it.
For those of you not familiar with the story, it is as follows: Once upon a time, around 170 years before Jesus, the Jewish Temple was taken over by Syrian and Greek armies who re-established it as a place of worship for their gods. Furthermore, they outlawed the practice of Judaism and required the worship of Greek gods. A group of Jewish rebels called the Maccabees fled to the mountains, created their own army, and took back their land from Greek control. They returned to the temple, which had since been desecrated by the worship of other gods and needed to be purified. To do this, they had to burn ritual oil in the temple for eight days. The only problem with this was that they only had enough oil for one. They decided to burn the oil anyway, and, miraculously, the oil did burn for eight. (A quick note. This story is better told by the Holiday Armadillo, for those of you who are smart enough to know and love Friends.)
So basically, once a year, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights with the lighting of menorahs and ingesting of delicious latkes in thankful rememberance that one time, so long ago, that God provided when it seemed hopeless.
This year, Hanukkah falls on this coming Wednesday, which happens to be the day before we celebrate Thanksgiving. And while Thanksgiving is not technically a religious holiday, it is a time where we take a few moments (and, in some cases, several Facebook statuses) to recall what all that we have to be thankful for. And often in these times of thankfulness, we also recall the things that God has done. We are thankful for the things that have been provided to us, material or otherwise, without which, our life would be much darker.
And thus it has occurred to me that this week, for two days in a row, I will be festive for reasons for thankfulness. And after this year, this seems so appropriate. This is the year that I have learned what provision truly is. I have learned what it means to trust God and be thankful. I have learned that despite any circumstance that comes against me, I have no reason to be anything other than full of thanksgiving because I am blessed.
I am thankful although I lost my job right before the new year, two weeks later I interviewed for a job that I really love and have since advanced greatly in.
I am thankful that when my finances were hopeless as a result of said job loss, God provided and my bills never went unpaid.
I am thankful although I recieved less than enjoyable news at a doctor's appointment over the summer, because I have been provided with extraordinary friends and family that supported me through my roller coaster of emotions immediately following.
I am thankful that this month marks a year that I have been off of anti-depressants, because it shows me that no matter how dark things seem at the second, there is light at the end.
As stupid as it sounds, I am thankful for friends that introduced me to things like Doctor Who and Sherlock and a number of different authors, because with it came a sense of comradery that has honestly helped me to love and accept myself.
I am thankful although I have lost people in my life, because it has shown me to love and appreciate those who are with me now.
I am thankful that I have friends that are some of the most spectactular people on earth who love and bring out the best in me.
I am thankful for a family that has proven to be a solid support system regardless of the circumstance.
I am thankful for mentors in my life that are willing and able to tell me what's what and are always willing to listen and provide advice in my excessively dramatic life.
I am thankful that regardless of my understanding, God has shown me over the past year that He really will make all things, even my worst and most hopeless things, good in his time.
And for these reasons, on Thursday, I will sit around a table and eat Tofurkey and mashed potatoes and be thankful.
And on Wednesday, I will light a candle and sit in thankful rememberance for a moment. Because I know that my God has and will continue to provide.