Haines For Hanukkah

 The Christmas holidays are in full swing in Haines. There is only one bazaar left, at the ANB Hall this Saturday. We've had the Lighting of the Library and the Lighting of the Fort, the Christmas cookie and candy contest and the school concert. Saturday is the Christmas parade and the community Christmas musical. After that it will get real quiet.
Which is the opposite of how it is supposed to be if you are an Episcopalian like me. (Father Blaney calls me a non-union Catholic.)
We are still firmly in Advent, the church season that leads up to Christmas. The four Sundays prior to Christmas Eve are the quiet days of waiting for the light of baby Jesus. We sit in the dark and softly sing O Come Emmanuel and think about how faith will transform us and how we will let the miracle that was Jesus' birth make our lives different. We Christians pray about how we will accept the message of peace and love and a new way of being that came to us so long ago in the form not of a king or a warrior, but  a  baby. It is, when you think about it, the most zen of  all the church seasons.
We celebrate Christmas (or at least are supposed to) the 12 days from Christmas Day to Epiphany, January 6. Technically, the tree should go up Christmas Eve and come down Epiphany, preferably with a bonfire on the beach and a church potluck. The 12 days of Christmas then, are when Christians should light the lights, sing the carols, have parades, bake the cookies, and exchange gifts. Ministers and priests are often called Scrooge for reminding the faithful of this during this commercial age when Christmas begins at Thanksgiving and  trees  are hauled to the dump on December 26.
I am not being grumpy here, I love the lights, especially in the dark days of December. The school concert was terrific. The library tree makes me happy.
But I do have a suggestion. It is a fun way of making our community holiday celebrations more accurate. We should call the community festivities prior to Christmas "Haines for Hanukkah." The eight day festival of lights begins on Friday, so the parade, with the snow dragon, could definitely fit that theme. Also, the traditional Hanukkah foods, (doughnuts and potato pancakes) are just the kind those of us suffering from Seasonal Affected Disorder crave. We could invite neighbors from Juneau and Whitehorse to town for this one of a kind community holiday. As far as I know, there are no other Alaskan towns that put on a Hanukkah party and none that have as strong a claim on Hanukkah as we do.
A founding father of our non-Native community was a Polish Jew named Solomon Ripinsky. He was the mayor, a teacher, a postmaster, and  a delegate to the territorial convention. He was also a poet and a musician. (We could have a classical music concert.) And a snappy dresser who wore hats for all occasions. (We could have a poetry contest and a costume ball.) The mountain behind town bears his name (A snowshoe race!) How neat would it be be to have a Hanukkah parade and a Christmas Concert?


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