But this dilemma raises questions that go far beyond my own family. What should Jews say when well-intended shopkeepers wish us a "Happy Hanukkah" on Christmas Eve, weeks after our holiday has ended?
I suppose that with the Christmas season now beginning as early as October, there's nothing so wrong about letting Hanukkah be extended a few weeks in the other direction, especially since that will enable Jews and their neighbors to share this season of good will in a manner that respects diversity rather than demanding homogeneity.
So by all means, non Jews, wish me a Happy Hanukkah all December long. If that legendary oil could miraculously burn for eight whole days, what's another twenty one? The ancient rabbis instructed Jews to increase the light each night in order to spread the joy and publicize the miracle. No one ever said that we have to stop at eight. In fact, Jewish law states that the Sabbath can be extended far beyond its natural conclusion on Saturday night, even until midweek. So let Hanukkah linger as well, even if only in the well wishes of neighbors.
In the spirit of M.O.T. Jerry Herman's song from "Mame," "We Need a Little Christmas," another Yuletide classic with a Yiddish soul, maybe this year we should sing, "We a Little MORE Hanukkah," enough to last clear to the end of the month.
Let's keep those flames burning, all December long -- and even beyond. During these trying times, we all could use a little more light.