The eight-day holiday began for us Jews on Sunday. We light candles, eat latkes (potato pancakes) and exchange gifts, customarily one for each day.
I can’t give all of you eight gifts, but I can offer you my eight Hanukkah wishes.
1. I wish that all Starbucks had at least two bathrooms.
A few already do, like the one near my son’s place in Brooklyn. A lot of good that does me.
But mostly it’s just one per latte lounge. It’s easier getting into the Waialae Country Club.
Because I go to the Koko Marina Starbucks almost every day, the baristas have bestowed upon me the bathroom door code reserved for regulars.
But what good is the key to the safe if someone is already using your deposit box?
2. I wish that Black Friday stories would never enter my ears or eyes ever again.
It’s a day about shopping, people! That’s it. Nothing else. Do I ever write a column about going to Costco to buy toilet paper?
Yet for some reason buying stuff at humongous stores the day after Thanksgiving is a media darling.
Even NPR embedded a reporter in a suburban Washington, D.C., mall for the most recent Black Friday.
Pulitzer alert: She talked to people about their bargains!
Why should anybody care about some guy barreling into Best Buy to save some coin on a TV set the size of a mastodon?
Use it in good health, sir. But like all of your other health issues, we don’t need to know about it.
3. I wish that men went to see live theater.
Hawaii theater audiences usually look like Tupperware parties.
Hey, bro, give it a shot. You won’t lose your macho license. Your tats won’t fade. Promise.
And older guys, for a change, go along with your wife. Consider it date night.
I’ve seen and acted in plays here that have made grown men cry. And that’s a good thing.
One night as he left the theater a big guy told me he was so overwhelmed by the play that he decided to visit his father’s grave on the way home.
So put down the clicker and give it a shot.
4. I wish that Hawaii had a vote recount law that actually made it possible to get a recount.
In most states, if an election is really close, generally within 1 percent, there is an automatic recount.
Not us. Hawaii uses a phony legal process whereby the election loser has to come up with evidence worthy of a Robert Mueller investigation before the court deigns to act.
Come on. People make mistakes. So recount ‘em.
5. I wish that I didn’t have to read one more damn story about Hawaii vacation rentals until …
All these stories are the same, going something like this: “We have a problem. Some people want one thing. Others disagree. Some heavy hitters are part of the process. So let’s not act as we await …”
Await what exactly? The completion of rail? The arrival of the Answer-That-Pleases-Everyone Fairy?
Here’s the headline of the only vacation rental story I want to see: “Politicians Get Off Keisters and Summon Courage.”
6. I wish that the state Department of Health (motto: “the job we were supposed to do yesterday we won’t do tomorrow”) would develop an AEM machine.
That’s Automatic Excuse Machine, because the DOH’s consistently lame reasons for not doing its job are so frequent and programed that you might as well have a machine dispense them.
You want to know why your mom is in a care home that, thanks to DOH, is unlicensed and uninspected? Just enter your pin number into the AEM and out comes a token saying, “We won’t ‘cause we can’t. We can’t ‘cause we won’t.”
7. I wish that Honolulu drivers would quit whining about bike lanes.
So sorry they make your life more complicated. You actually have to stop and think before making a turn off King Street. Wow, like navigating the Mars Rover.
Drivers, it’s on you. Drivers here in Honolulu are awful. They kill more elderly pedestrians per capita than in any other city. (At my age I now travel only by helicopter.)
Just a week or so ago in Kakaako, an allegedly drunken driver with an open bottle of booze at his side struck and killed an elderly man who made the fatal mistake of being in a crosswalk.
And you victim-blamers want us to worry about all the Bikis in that neighborhood stealing your parking spaces and — get this — making you watch the road.
8. I wish that more of you would recognize that we Jews might participate in Christmas, but do not celebrate it.
I go to Christmas parties. They are a great place to catch up with friends I have not seen for a long time. But that’s just participating — looking but not touching.
Celebration is something deeper. Jews don’t celebrate the holiday because it commemorates the birth of Jesus, and Jesus is not our God.
It is a Christian holiday.
Pretty straightforward — except it isn’t. I don’t know how many times people have been surprised that we don’t have a Christmas tree or how often people call Hanukkah “the Jewish Christmas.”
Or how astonished people often are when I tell them that Jews don’t worship Jesus.
People say “Merry Christmas” to me all the time. It’s a nice gesture, well-meaning. But it comes with an assumption that turns out not to be true.
Bonus wish: I wish that this Hanukkah season you get to try some potato latkes and, better yet, to be in the house while they are being fried. That smell alone …
I also wish that the cook is not some big-shot from the Department of Health.
Because if it is, the food won’t be ready until the Fourth of July.
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Neal Milner is a former political science professor at the University of Hawaii where he taught for 40 years. He is a political analyst for KITV and is a regular contributor to Hawaii Public Radio's "The Conversation." His most recent book is The Gift of Underpants. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.