Growing up in the Bronx, I had many Non-Jewish friends, and I looked forward to go over to their apartments in December to see their Christmas Tree all decorated and lit up. Being Jewish, we didn't have Christmas Trees, and I got even more confused when my Non-Jewish friends would ask to come over to my place to see my Chanukah Bush. I did not have a Chanukah Bush. None of my other Jewish friends had a Chanukah Bush.
I do understand that Moses spoke to G-d posing as a "burning bush" on our way to our exodus from Egypt. So, if we all decided to have a Passover Bush, I would be all for that! I can understand that. We can then all set it on fire, and have amazing conversations talking to our burning bush during the Passover Seder. Finally, the Four Questions will be answered.
But, this was Chanukah. There is no bush in the Story of Chanukah.
And besides, I found it to be rather insulting. What are they trying to tell me?
"Here is my big beautiful Christmas Tree! Now, can I come over to see your measly little bush?"
Do you really think people would travel to New York from all over the world to go to Rockefeller Center to see the lighting of the Christmas Bush? For a bush, how many light bulbs do you need anyway? Two? Three, at the most!
Just think of the public outcry there would be if they made the announcement: "We are switching from tree to bush!!"
On top of that, my mother and all the other Jewish mothers (being Jewish mothers) would say:
"Don't go playing in the bushes!!!!"
And of course, being Jewish sons, we did not always listen to our mothers!!
My friend Marty's mom would say:
"Marty!!! Don't go playing in the bushes!!!"
Marty went into the bushes, and got punctured with many pointy thorns! He looked like he went through extreme acupuncture therapy. Poor Marty walked home, and Animal Control had to be called because everyone thought there was a giant porcupine stalking the neighborhood.
My friend Howie's mom would say:
"Howie!!! Don't go playing in the bushes!!!"
Howie's favorite food is pizza. If he had to be fed through an intravenous feeding tube, they would have to figure out how to get the slice of pizza into the tube. One day, he was eating a very oily slice, and it slipped from his hands and landed on the head of a giant rat. The rat scurried into the bushes, and Howie went after the rat. When Howie tried to retrieve his slice back, the rat bit his hand really hard. Poor Howie couldn't hold a slice of pizza for a week!!
My friend Stewie's mom would say:
"Stewie!!! Don't go playing in the bushes!!"
Stewie went to play in the bushes. A skunk was hiding in the bushes, and poor Stewie got sprayed by a skunk. He smelled so bad that he had to stay in the bath for an entire day with Clorox bleach. They had to bleach him to get the smell out! The good part about this is that after this episode, if I ever got a stain on my clothes, I would just have to rub it on Stewie's bleached skin, and the stain would come out.
My mom would always tell me:
"Stevie!!! Don't go playing in the bushes! Remember what happened to Marty, Howie, and Stewie?"
I did and I was not going to go anywhere near the bushes! We played Hide and Go Seek, and the bushes would not be a hiding spot.
But, one day, I was hiding behind a garbage can, and I got stung by a bee. I tried to get away from the bee, and ran into the bushes. It was a poison ivy bush, and I got really bad poison ivy on my arm. It wouldn't go away until a month later, out of desperation, I rubbed my arm on Stewie's bleached arm, and the poison ivy went away!!!
This is the point. Nobody has fond and warm memories about their times in the bushes. A second point. A Christmas Tree is usually an evergreen pine or fir tree. However, if you look around, there are lots of other kinds of trees!! We should not get a bush for Chanukah. We should get our own special tree!!
Then, one Chanukah, I went to Florida to visit my parents, and it hit me! Like getting hit on the head with a coconut!!! A Palm Tree!! We all end up retiring in Florida to sit under a Palm Tree anyway!
So, the Jewish People should celebrate Chanukah with our own special Palm Tree. I got one!! And, when the blizzard hits and we get two feet of snow, do you think people go to someone's house to see a Christmas Tree? No!!! They all flock to my house, and sun themselves under my very special Chanukah Palm Tree!! It's the most popular tree on the block!!
"So we learned to be careful not to express our inner TyrantoCrankaTsuris or TyrantoKvetchaTsuris too often. Just the right amount to keep the planet happy and not too cranky."