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Fic: The Light of Hanukkah, Gen, G

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  • avimara
    TITLE: The Light of Hanukkah AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass AUTHOR S E-MAIL: fishfolk@ix.netcom.com. Feedback is better than chocolate. PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Yes,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2001
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      TITLE: The Light of Hanukkah
      AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass
      AUTHOR'S E-MAIL: fishfolk@.... Feedback is better than
      chocolate.
      PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Yes, just let me know.
      CATEGORY: Gen
      RATING: G
      WARNING: Holiday bashing ahead, as well as some minor dissing of
      deities. If this bothers you, stop reading now. All flames and flamers
      will be chopped into little pieces and fed to the Invisible Pink
      Unicorn.
      SUMMARY: "I don't believe in the whole deity and miracle thing, but
      the being hounded through the woods for being born the wrong way,
      yeah, I can get into that."
      DISCLAIMER: The X-Men and the X-Men movieverse belong to Marvel and
      Twentieth-Century Fox and other entities with expensive lawyers. I am
      making no profit from this story.
      NOTES: Kitty's prayer and discussion of Hanukkah are adapted from
      materials on the website of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, but
      the categories of Jewish holidays are mine. Thanks to J. Marie (aka
      Askani'daughter) for the beta, and <hugs> to Eiluned for offering to
      read it from her sickbed.

      //thoughts//

      ***********************************

      Christmas was everywhere, and it was making Kitty sick. She peered
      cautiously through the library door. The darn holiday was still two
      weeks away, but it was evident in the smell of baking gingerbread, the
      tinsel Jubilee had strung haphazardly on every surface, and the crunch
      of the candy cane bits Bobby kept dropping underfoot.

      The library looked safe from Christmas cheer. As Kitty phased through
      the oak door, she heard the off-key carols recede into the distance.
      She sank gratefully into her favorite chair, slipping her long legs
      under her body to curl up in the embrace of its worn green chenille.
      The Professor's library relaxed her, with its eclectic mix of the
      Encyclopedia Britannica, Plutarch, and Agatha Christie.

      She idly picked up the calculus textbook she'd brought as cover in
      case anyone found her, but as she flipped through the pages, her mind
      returned to her Christmas lament.

      //It sucks to be Jewish in the month of December, where I'm constantly
      reminded I'm an outsider. Wow, mutant *and* Jewish, if I could just
      become a lesbian, I could round out my "most-hated" status,// she
      thought bitterly.

      She leaned back in her chair, wrapped her arms around her body and
      enjoyed a good bout of self-pity. Then the door slammed open, followed
      by the energetic entry of Jubilee, trademark yellow jacket replaced
      with a blindingly red blouse and green skirt. Rogue leaned in moments
      later, her dark bodysuit livened with a sprig of greenery.

      "There you are, girl!" Jubilee said, perching on one arm of the chair
      while Rogue leaned against the nearest bookshelf. "What are you doing
      holed up in here? It's Friday night, let's party!"

      Kitty groaned. "Go away and let me be miserable by myself."

      "What's up?" Jubilee asked.

      Rogue made shooing motions with her hands. "Jubes, go away for a sec,
      and let me talk to her." Jubes patted Kitty's shoulder and bounced her
      way out of the room, humming "I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus."

      Rogue settled on the rug and propped her chin in her hands. "Well?"

      "Well, what?"

      "Well, what crawled up your ass and died?" Rogue tried to growl like
      Logan, but it didn't quite work.

      Kitty managed a weak smile. "The Christmas stuff is just a bit much,
      and I feel left out. I'll get over it."

      "You're welcome to join in."

      "But I don't *want* to." Kitty wanted to pound her head against the
      wall. Didn't anyone *get* it? "It's not my holiday and I don't *want*
      to celebrate it. I don't care about the baby Jesus. I don't believe in
      God at all. And if you ask me how I can be Jewish and not believe in
      God, I'll smack you."

      Rogue sensibly ignored most of the outburst. "Honey, it's not really
      about being Christian."

      "That's easy for you to say, but you know it is. It's not my holiday,
      and it's a reminder that I'm not like everybody else."

      "You know we don't mean that," Rogue said, her brows furrowed.

      "I know." Kitty curled up in a tighter ball in the chair, and before
      she could say anything else, Rogue slid onto the corner of the seat
      and carefully put her arms around her. Kitty was touched that her
      normally skittish friend would do this for her. She rested her head on
      Rogue's shoulder and breathed in her vanilla shampoo.

      "You're our friend and we love you," Rogue said.

      "Thanks."

      Rogue squeezed her. "Feel a little better?"

      "Yeah, but I don't think I'm ready to handle Jubes yet."

      "I'll try and keep her busy if you try and cheer up," Rogue said.
      "Promise?"

      "I'll try."

      She closed her eyes, leaned back in the chair, and contemplated her
      next move. She was startled by the sound of a footstep on the oriental
      rug. "Jubes, if that's you, go away," she said.

      A voice much deeper than Jubes', with just a little Canadian accent on
      the vowels spoke. "What's up, kid?"

      Kitty opened her eyes to see Logan settling into the chair opposite
      her. "Nothing," she said quietly. The last person she wanted to admit
      she was being emotional and weepy to was the big, bad Wolverine.

      "Yeah, 'nothing' always has you hiding out in here sending your
      friends away. Do I *look* stupid?" He crossed his arms, and looked (in
      fact) immovable. "Tell me about it. I'm not as mean as I'm cracked up
      to be. Not outside the Danger Room, at least."

      "It's just all this Christmas stuff," Kitty said, wrapping her arms
      around her and staring at the book in her lap. Maybe if she ignored
      him, he'd go away.

      "Yeah, all this enforced cheeriness gets to be a bit much, doesn't
      it?" Logan said.

      Her eyebrows shot up, but all she could manage was, "Uh huh." They sat
      in silence for a few minutes, and she flipped a few pages.

      "It's tough, this time of year," Logan said finally. "Everybody's got
      these happy holiday memories I haven't got. Hell, for all I know, I'm
      Jewish. Or Buddhist."

      She dared a look at his face, but he wasn't looking at her, he was
      looking up at the ceiling, his face tight. He absently rubbed the
      knuckles on his right hand.

      "I'm sorry," she said, unsure what else to say. She'd never thought
      about what it was like to not remember your past, to lose the good
      bits as well as the bad.

      "Not your fault. Just wanted you to know you're not the only one
      feeling left out." He shook his head and stood up. "Don't just sit
      here being depressed. Go talk to Ororo."

      "Ms. Munroe?"

      "Yeah." He paused. "And if you feel the need to get further away from
      Christmas, you can hide out in my room any time."

      "Thank you. I...maybe I'll take you up on that."

      Logan nodded once and padded out of the room. She sat a little longer
      in her chair, savoring the gift he'd given her.

      *******************************

      She was feeling a little better, so she ventured out of the library.
      But when she got to her bedroom, between the miniature tree with
      flashing red lights and the talking Santa doll, she realized she
      couldn't stand to be in there. Every room seemed to contain someone
      singing or decorating or wanting to talk to her.

      The dining room contained some of the younger kids practicing
      Christmas songs, overseen from one corner of the room by Mr. Summers.
      He looked up from the papers he was grading long enough to wave.

      She wandered into the rec room, thinking perhaps she could convince
      the gang to put on some harmless sitcom for a while. Bobby waylaid her
      as soon as she entered the room.

      "Kit-Kat, where've you been?" he asked.

      "Around," she said absently, craning her neck to see what was on the
      television.

      "We were looking for you earlier. John and I were gonna go see the
      midnight showing of _Miracle on 34th Street_ and we thought you might
      want to come along."

      Kitty stopped looking at the television and turned slowly to look at
      Bobby. "Um, work with me here." She pointed at herself. "Jewish? Not
      celebrating Christmas?"

      "Oh, c'mon Kitty, it's just a movie. I don't see them making Hanukkah
      movies. Hey, maybe you should make one. You can sing that song about
      making things out of clay." Bobby was laughing hard.

      Tears sprang to her eyes as she said, "Bobby, you're a jerk," and ran
      out of the room.

      //Damn that boy, maybe his real mutant power is being annoying,// she
      thought as she stomped away. He called out after her, but she slid
      through a few walls to get away, startling Ms. Grey reading a romance
      novel in front of a fireplace and Dr. McCoy juggling oranges in the
      kitchen. As she phased through the pantry, she looked back and saw him
      drop five of them. She winced. She'd owe him an apology later for
      that.

      For now, her improved mood was shot.

      She could go to Logan's room, but she wasn't quite ready to take him
      up on that offer. Well, he'd told her to talk to Ms. Munroe; maybe he
      knew something about the other teacher she didn't. So, she skirted the
      main areas of the mansion and slid up to the attic garden where the
      plant-loving teacher was most likely to be found during the winter.

      As she ascended the polished stairs, the tinsel petered out, as
      apparently even Jubilee gave up. By the time she reached Ms. Munroe's
      isolated level, the walls were back to normal, festooned only with the
      occasional landscape or priceless vase in a nook. She felt better
      already.

      As she reached to knock on the door, she heard music from within and
      froze. She relaxed when she realized it was classical but *not* the
      Nutcracker Suite.

      After a few calming breaths, she knocked tentatively on the door. She
      waited a few moments, sticking her hands in her pockets before Ms.
      Munroe opened the door. Would she be upset at a student bothering her
      in the evening?

      Ms. Munroe opened the door, and Kitty could see she wore a swirling
      green robe. "Please come in," she said. As Kitty crossed the
      threshold, she was shocked by a rush of warm, scented air. It washed
      over her like a wave of floral perfume.

      Ms. Munroe moved through a maze of plants, from a humble philodendron
      to a spiky flower Kitty didn't recognize, but thought looked like
      something out of a Star Trek episode.

      Underneath a row of African violets was a low couch, and Ms. Munroe
      led her to it. "Would you like some tea?" she asked before sitting
      down. "I believe I may even have some shortbread."

      "That'd be nice," Kitty said, relaxing as her teacher swept to a small
      kitchenette to put on water for tea.

      Moments later, they were both settled with tea and cookies. Ms. Munroe
      asked, "Now, please tell me, what is bothering you?"

      How to phrase it? The words leapt out of her mouth before she could
      censor them. "I despise Christmas!" Kitty said.

      "As do I," Ms. Munroe said. Kitty looked at her in surprise. "Perhaps
      I would not have used quite that word, but I agree with the sentiment.
      Didn't you know that I am not a Christian either?"

      "No, I guess I didn't. I'm sorry."

      "No need to be sorry, it is an easy assumption to make in this
      country. But it is not easy to be one of the few people not
      celebrating, is it?"

      Emboldened by the understanding, the words poured out of Kitty. "Every
      time I sit in front of the television, someone puts on 'Rudolph, the
      Red-Nosed Reindeer.' Radio stations keep playing 'Rock Around the
      Christmas Tree' or whatever that darn song is. I can't even go to the
      mall!"

      "It is overwhelming, but you are not alone in this. And, of course,
      you have your own holiday."

      Kitty groaned. "If one more person equates Hanukkah with Christmas, or
      asks me to sing the dreidel song, I'm going to scream."

      "I do not believe I know very much about Hanukkah, other than the
      basic story: The Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, defeated the Greek king
      of the Syrian empire, and then entered the defiled temple to light the
      oil lamps."

      "Oh, the story," Kitty waved her hands, nearly leaping out of her seat
      in exasperation, "that's got nothing to do with it. Most of it's not
      even true, anyway. The rabbi explained that to me years ago."

      "That took some of the magic away for you, didn't it?"

      "Sort of, but I'd rather know the truth any day. The bit about the oil
      lasting eight days rather than one? Added a long time later. All that
      stuff about religious freedom? The Maccabees would have happily made
      the Greeks worship God just like the Jews."

      "Then what does the holiday mean to you?"

      "It's not even that important a holiday, you know? But it's all about
      people standing up for themselves. I don't believe in the whole deity
      and miracle thing, but the being hounded through the woods for being
      born the wrong way, yeah, I can get into that."

      Ororo smiled. "I suppose there is a rather obvious link to modern
      day."

      "There always is. You know, I knew a girl who said there were three
      kinds of Jewish holidays: harvest holidays, religious ones, and
      'somebody tried to kill us, we kicked their butts, let's eat.'"

      Ororo made a noise suspiciously like a snort. "Oh dear. I suppose
      Hanukkah is one of the latter."

      "Yup. I've been so busy complaining about Christmas, I hadn't really
      thought about it, but I guess Hanukkah's about not letting people push
      you around, about standing up for what you believe in, about heroes."

      "That is certainly relevant. Perhaps," Ororo paused, "perhaps you
      would be interested in doing a small celebration with me? I know I am
      not Jewish, but whatever you think is an appropriate celebration."

      "Maybe I could light the candles? That would be nice. Could I ask
      Logan, too?"

      "If you wish. I think he might appreciate that."

      **************************

      Sunday night, with the sun setting behind the trees, Kitty looked at
      her small gathering in Ororo's room, waiting to eat latkes and
      sufganyot. She smiled at them, and said, "Hanukkah isn't about any
      particular deity, it's about courage, it's about freedom, and it's
      about hope. These things are as important now as they were 2000 years
      ago. The candles on this chanukiyah stand for values I believe in:
      action, courage, human dignity, freedom, justice, identity, choice,
      strength, and ingenuity."

      As she lit the first candle, she said, "I know the traditional
      prayers, but I found one on the Net that I like better. Baruch ha'or
      ba'olam. Baruch ha'or ba'adam. Baruch ha'or ba'Hanukkah. Blessed is
      the light of the world. Blessed is the light of humanity. Blessed is
      the light of Hanukkah."

      --END--
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