Enjoy the holiday spirit, whatever your religion may be

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Saturday’s (Dec. 8) downtown activities
Holiday parade
When: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Along Fifth and F streets

Tree lighting and
live music
When: Following parade
Where: In Beermann Plaza

Open house
When: 4-8 p.m.
Where: Several downtown stores. Participating stores will have treats for visitors.

For more information: Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce office at 645-2035.

The holiday spirit is in full force. That’s true, even in the face of last week’s constant rain and heavy winds that led to the postponement of the Dec. 1 Christmas parade, tree lightening and downtown merchants’ open house.
But postponing these events to this Saturday did not dampen the holiday mood.
Since the day after Thanksgiving, as I walk daily downtown or shop in Lincoln’s other shopping areas, I see this spirit via Salvation Army bell ringers, wreaths, Christmas lights and holiday sales.
Besides the material ways listed above, the holiday spirit is visible on a more primal basis.
Individuals I see every day, whether through work, on the street or in stores; look friendlier, happier and more laid-back. They’re polite. And business representatives on the phone and in person appear calmer and less stressed.
Christmas is definitely almost here.
Of course, not everyone is in a Christian-based religion so they don’t celebrate the birth of Christ.
Such as me and the thousands of other Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Jehovah’s Witnesses in this country.
Growing up Jewish, I never had a Christmas tree or strung pretty lights around my outdoor trees, plants and roof.
I observed Hanukkah, a minor holiday in my religion honoring the Maccabees who rebuilt their house of worship in the year 165 BCE after their enemies desecrated the temple.
For the eight days of Hanukkah, I would light the menorah (or candelabrum that symbolizes religious freedom), open a present, eat latkes (potato pancakes topped with apple sauce or sour cream) and play dreidel (or spinning-top) games.
My Jewish friends and I couldn’t be fooled, though. We walked around the whole month, feeling like we didn’t fit in with the rest of the town. Everyone but my family and the members of my synagogue seemed to have a daily Christmas get-together to attend every day of December.
We knew Santa really ruled with all the Christmas parties, tree decorating, Christmas school break and eggnog recipes in his honor.
While my classmates looked forward to being in the mandatory school Christmas play and buying stocking stuffers, I dreamed it would soon be Dec.  31. Then my friends and I would become united again in our New Year’s Eve plans.
Fast forward to today and not celebrating Christmas like the majority of Lincoln residents do doesn’t dampen my holiday spirit.
I wish we could continue the holiday mood all 12 months of the year. The good will evident this month is something needed every day of the year.
Coincidentally, the first day of Hanukkah this year starts on Saturday night and continues through Sunday, Dec. 16.
During Saturday’s downtown celebration, I’ll wish my Christian friends Merry Christmas and my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah.
Basically, I’ll be hoping both have a wonderful holiday season with their family and friends.