I stood in a circle of cross-legged children, clutching the delicate menorah out in front of me, afraid of dropping it. My mother had carefully wrapped it in tissue paper to keep it safe on the ride to school.
“Be proud,” she said against my cheek when she kissed me goodbye.
My hands covered most of the menorah, as if I were trying to hide it. The children stared up at me. I looked around the room. My gaze flit from the golden-crusted Christmas tree tucked in the corner, to the grid of reindeer drawings stuck to the walls with red tape, to the smiling, apple cheeked Santa hanging on the door.
The teacher prodded me to talk.
“It has nine candles. Eight for each day of Hannukah, one to light the other candles. We
celebrate the lights.”
“Show the whole thing” the teacher said.
I slid my hands down so the menorah rested on my palms and walked slowly around the
“That’s weird,” someone said.
“It’s ugly. Christmas is better.” said another.
I eyed the cookies piled on a plate the teacher had brought in to celebrate the holidays. Like the room decorations, the cookies only came in trees, reindeers, and Santa shapes. Not a menorah or dreidel in sight. Maybe Christmas was better.
“Time for the Christmas party,” my teacher said.
I went to my cubby, hid the menorah in my backpack, then grabbed a Santa cookie and a picture of the manger to color, and camouflaged myself in Christmas.
Shari Garmise mainlines coffee, is walked daily by her stubborn dog, misses her college kid and tries to do good within the four walls of an office. Usually by email. She has published one non-fiction book and ten romances, although those are under several pen names. She has added flash to her writing portfolio, and it feels like home.