That's because amid the 15,000 or so miniature lights twinkling, the array of poinsettias big and small, red and yellow, the yards of greenery snaking around banisters and across mantles, the multiple wreaths, stockings and reindeer statues and the two Christmas trees (fancy fake one for show, homey live one for dough), there stands the epicenter of our guests' annual confusion.
Right next to a silver Santa, bearing a platter of scented tea candles.
"Funny," our guests will say, "'the name 'Uncool' doesn't sound Jewish."
See, when it comes to religion, My Love and I completely agree.
Neither of us has the answer.
Nor the question.
Nor a clue.
Can't even find the cheat codes on the Internet and yes, I have tried.
This explains our rather odd holiday decorating style. It began one day many years ago with the Things coming home from pre-school all aglow with talk about this fascinating thing they learned about that day.
The Festival of Lights!
One day's worth of oil burning for eight!
Cool little jelly doughnuts!
"Why don't we celebrate Hanukkah?" asked Thing 1, all filled with child-like wonder and those funky hash browns smothered in applesauce.
My Love and I, both lapsed Catholics, looked at each other, shrugged and said "why not" to each other with our eyes as only married people can do. We had agreed long before that we'd be open with our children about the many different points of view in the world on God, faith and the like in hope that some day they would find a path that suited them best. We'd be willing for them to give Hanukkah a try just as long as the Things agreed they weren't using this as a way to wrangle more presents out of us.
My Love quickly purchased a menorah. When you flip it over you find a sticker on the bottom noting its authoritative origins in India and distribution by Pier 1 Imports of Fort Worth, Texas.
I don't recall where the candles come from, but a good guess is the baking section of the local supermarket though I might have been temporarily inspired and gone into a Walgreens.
Darkness fell and we gathered around the kitchen counter, the traditional gathering place for our family on sacred occasions because of its simultaneous access to food, drink and the big screen TV. My Love placed one candle in the center of our shiny new menorah and another on the far left. I squeezed the trigger on our Chinese-made lighter and set the wicks ablaze.
We stood, the four of us, and stared at the flames.
"Now what?" piped up one of the Things.
My Love and I looked at each other blankly. This when we realized a little more research might have come in handy.
I, being the one who hates an awkward silence most, cleared my throat.
A prayer, I thought.
That's it! You must say some kind of prayer when you light the candles!
But what prayer could a ex-Catholic offer over an authentic Made-in-India, Distributed-through-Texas menorah?
I dug deep into my memory banks to find a scrap of what some of my childhood friends had taught all us Gentiles back around the art table in elementary school and I let it soar toward the heavens:
"Oooooh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel -- I made you out of clay! And when you're dried and ready, then dreidel I will play! L'chaim!"
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Video: Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert, "Can I interest you in Hanukkah?"