I am David Quigley. I am (obviously) the Jewish half of the Quigley marriage. My wife Angela and I joined IFFP in 2001 –ish. Our daughter Hannah is 16 and a Coming Of Age grad and our son Elliot is in fourth grade. I have to admit, I was surprised when I was asked to talk about Hanukkah memories. I did this about 15 years ago and it went really poorly. But, with a new Rabbi, and Rev. Julia retiring, here we are.
In any event, two caveats: 1) Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays…now; and 2) I grew up in Upstate New York. My High School class of 560 had at most 5 Jews (and I am giving full credit for the half-Jews in coming to that number).
So, against that backdrop, Chanukah for me was, next to Easter, the season when I felt most different from my friends, almost none of whom were Jewish. As soon as leftovers from Thanksgiving were gone, they were putting up trees and lights and there was caroling and I just did none of those things. And I had good friends by the way and they would say, “dude you get eight Christmases.” And I would have to sort of say, “yeah, but do I though?”
So that is where our story begins. Each year I would sit my friends down and say, OK, but it’s not what you think. And these are now incredibly favorable memories. There’s even literally a song about them by Daveed Diggs (who for some reason I did not realize was a Jewish Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton but the name Daveed really should’ve been a clue).
So yes, there were eight nights. But here is a smattering of what occurred each of those nights, and what continues to occur to this day because my parents continue this tradition with my kids (which I love and will count as a blessing every year that they do this, as do my kids).
Day 1: very mysterious – they could be blue OR black, you never knew – but they were socks. To this day, I have never bought myself a pair of socks because I know will get them on night one.
Day 2: LL Bean Sweater Day. I have to say even when I was a kid I loved LL Bean sweater day. Nice stuff.
Day 3: pajamas. Maybe flannel, maybe cotton, you didn’t know.
Day 4: Dad’s pick. And what I mean by that, is Dad would go to the radio shack (which for those of you too young to remember was a store that I think existed to sell tv tubes so when the tube in your tv died you could go there (and they sold other electronics) but when you walked in, there was a table, where they would keep all the stuff that people brought back because it didn’t work) and my Dad would pick one of these rescue items and bring it to me for Day 4. Not quite the rescue puppy Daveed Diggs longed for, but often a weather radio, which is just as nice.
BY the way, at this point in the story my friends’ faces would go from envy to more of an “oh.” But I will say, as much as I may not have known it then, I sort of love these aspects of Hanukkah now. Just as I love that 15 years after my grandmother’s death this is the time of year where I get to pull out her notes to me explaining how to make latkes just like she did. Just as I love the menorah lighting and the fact that my parents still have the menorah with a music box in it that played mah ozur, which will always be one of my favorite songs of any Jewish holiday.
And I love that my parents continue this tradition with my kids (and frankly my wife and me), even if remotely some years. And I look forward to the call every year, where my Mom, having sent gifts in advance labeled for each day says, “David, remember tonight is night 5, so your father picked it. …that’s all I’m gonna say.”
So, Hope your kids get puppies or weather radios, whichever floats their boats. Happy Hanukkah.