Like any Midwestern born son, Toledo, Ohio to be more specific, I spent the winters of my youth under a mantle of gray skies, wet mittens and prayers for snow days. Fast forward to today, however, and even the thought of venturing north of the Mason-Dixon Line before the spring thaw sends a shudder of protest down my spine. Despite my fifteen years as a resident of Florida’s second largest city, the sunshine and awaiting beaches betray the authenticity of that ‘ ‘ole holiday feeling,’ which makes navigating the Thanksgiving-Hannukkah convergence just another day of business unusual here in Mash Up Land USA, Miami.
I am sure there are some native born folks around here, I just haven’t run across many of them yet. The place I now call home is filled largely with fellow transplants who make the city part Long Island South, part Upper Havana and more like a Yankee town with really good weather than a place that was ever part of the Confederacy. Though we boast more than 5,750,00 citizens who live here year around, the hemispheric weather mix-up means we have migrations of snow birds venturing up from South America and down from North during two seasons and vacationers from the globe the other two. In other words, no one is from here originally and there’s a pretty good chance half of the ones that are here currently are already dreading the fact they will soon be returning to their homes and another winter of their discontent.
But yes, a decade and a half is long enough for my blood to have thinned and I have officially and unashamedly become a weather wimp. Admittedly, the seasonal changes are decidedly more nuanced here; falling humidity is much more difficult to capture on a Currier and Ives’ Plate than an avalanche of leaves in a mélange of lush autumnal tones. For it’s also truth the low 70’s does give even neo-Floridian’s like me the chills while our city’s daily visitors arrive and proclaim the air we’re calling ‘crisp’ nothing less than ‘balmy.” The tale of two Miami’s as illustrated on the streets: the locals are dressed like Nanook of the North next to vacationers in zinc oxide and flip-flops.
But a Midwestern boy I did grow up as and an important component of that was my education both secular and non. My brother and I grew up like typical kids with Hannukkah gift list’s and our own menorahs to light. But we also grew up knowing that Hanukkah is a pretty minor festival in the major scheme of Jewish holidays and it was just its proximity to Christmas that propelled it to be much more significant than it really is.
So that fact it falls on Turkey Day this year doesn’t really vex my brain too much at all. Latkes made with sweet potatoes are still going to sizzle and candles with a cartoon pilgrim on the box are still going to light. After all, Hannukkah falls on Thanksgiving like clockwork every 79,043 years, no matter where we live.