I wrote before that I didn't "get" Chanukah (Shabbat Shalom! The Chanukah Edition). Well, I didn't expect to be proven wrong so quickly! Somehow, I internalized Chanukah without even realizing it.
How did I figure this out? I saw a LOT of TV on New Year's and the week leading up to it. My family is the kind that always keeps a TV on for background noise. In addition, my family loves college (American) football. But in a pinch, any kind of football will do. I would estimate that I have seen/heard about 40 hours' worth of football in the last week. I'm reasonably interested in sports, and I'd even planned to take on pro football as a new "hobby" next year when I would finally be free from the evil mistress known as homework. Now...I no longer have that ambition. Now I just can't imagine why people would put themselves through that kind of abuse for fleeting fame and money.
My New Year's Eve Shabbat was not very Shabbosdich ("Shabbos-y") because of all the noise, TV, and cooking. I tried reading as much as I could, but I'm very easily distracted. As far as I know, I'm the only one of my Shabbat-observant friends who saw the ball drop in New York City.
As I saw the advertisements (amazing how they all tied into common New Year's resolutions!) and activities (football and the "kissing" at midnight), I was kinda repulsed. Really, no lie, actual revulsion. At one point, a light bulb just came on above my head that here it is, Greek culture, alive and well today. The worship of the human physique, the focus on the physical form (I think I've seen 4,234 Weight Watchers commercials!), the indulgence in fleeting physical relationships... I actually had to turn away from the footage of the Midnight Kisses because I seriously felt like I was intruding into a very personal, intimate moment, not to mention the tznius issues for those who were actually making out.
Wow, I sound like a naysayer prude. And my family would think I'm crazy if they read this. For them, this was all harmless, simple fun. But to me, it reflected a very dangerous and downright sad way of viewing the world. It's amazing how many not-so-subtle messages we beam into our brains every day without a second thought. No wonder it takes so long for converts and the newly-observant to internalize an orthodox Jewish worldview when everything around us is its antithesis!
And just like learning a language, one day you suddenly realize you've internalized the lessons because you finally had a dream in the language. This New Year's, I saw the world through the lens of Chanukah. ...Just a month late.