Henry the Hanukah Man

A and I sat down to talk about our family traditions for this folklore project and as soon as we hit family traditions he face lit up. Raised Jewish, A often felt left out around Christmas time when she went to school. Her friends talked about Santa Claus and when asked about her own Christmas, A went home in tears since she did not have a respective figure for Hanukah. A and I went out to dinner and began discussing our family histories and what they did for us when we were growing up. I had mentioned that my family never recognized Santa Claus and it was incredibly strange for me to hear about him growing up. A launched into her own story about her stand in for the jolly old man.

A: Growing up I celebrated Hanukah and never really had any notion of what or who Santa Claus was until I was in preschool. Some of my friends asked why I had yet to hear of Santa Claus and used to tease me that I was a bad girl since I had never known about him. My mom transformed the Santa Claus figure into Henry the Hanukah man so I did not feel weird. Even though I totally knew it was her doing the whole process, it was nice to feel like I had something to fill that void. Henry was my supplement for Santa Claus. Each night the doorbell would, but I never was fast enough to catch who it was. Sometimes she would pretend like she didn’t hear it and other times she was would run into my room and ask if I heard anything. When I opened the door, there would be my present sitting on the doorstep.

L: So Henry was an adaptation of Santa Claus for your family?

A: Ever since I was four, she stopped keeping up the whole Henry story when I got older, but it was nice to feel included in the whole holiday figure thing.