You see, I’ve never celebrated a Jewish holiday before, with my Jewishness an unexplored heritage, a faith of my family that was present but not involved.
It was something not even discussed, a necklace around my grandpa, a cookbook of my grandmas, menorah candles that went forever unlit.
Despite this, over time I moved closer almost in defiance, each mention of a “Jew goal” at FIFA solidifying my identity, each Holocaust denying encounter entrenching my desire to reconnect.
I went to university and wrote my dissertation on the Holocaust before pursuing a masters in Jewish History and Culture, an experience exactly as cheery as it sounds.
These studies did not provide me with any clues of celebration or the intricacy of traditions, instead focusing on the extensive horrors visited upon Jews in any given period.
Kicked out or killed, 100 years later, kicked out or killed again. Rinse and repeat. My education gave me no knowledge of what it meant to be Jewish, just a feeling that when my family had fled here, it was selfish of me not to at least find out.
I can tell you in great detail about the warring magazines advocating for antisemitism in the 20th century, or debate the ethics of literary devices in testimony, but offer very little about what holidays to celebrate and how.
Not that most of Britain can, with Hanukkah not even a public holiday, and both Labour and Conservatives holding their political conferences during Jewish holy days.
What I and I imagine most non-Jews know about Hanukkah is limited to Ross from Friends dressed as an armadillo, with a funny outfit the extent of his Jewishness.
But now, having managed to fall in love with a brilliant Jewish woman, my identity has renewed importance, a new cause beyond mere remembrance.
I just am unsure what to bring to the table, beyond a babka because frankly mine is an absolute showstopper and it’s an incredibly easy way to get people on side. Did I mention that I bake?
What I do know, is that Hanukkah celebrates a rebellion against the Syrian Greeks in 162 BC, an act of defiance and survival.
What I don’t know, however, is what this has to do with latkes, donuts, and spinning the dreidel, but then what does Jesus being born have to do with mincemeat cake? He was king of the Jews so maybe I’ll find out Sunday.
Either way, I am excited to fill my face and heart, embracing my family’s past in a way that looks to the future and also gives me yet another reason to eat a lot.
It’s another excuse to give presents, more reason to put on a spread, and further conversation before Christmas when I get to see the most important woman in my life, my Grandma.
I can’t wait to celebrate Hanukkah, and embrace a part of my identity dormant for so long.