A Guest Installment by Molly Bilker, Editorial Intern, Inside Self-Storage
The halls are decked. The red and green lights are out. Wreaths are hung. Silver and gold orbs hang from the limbs of trees. There's a Santa ringing a bell in front of every grocery store and comfortably seated in a cushy chair at every shopping mall. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.
At my modest little house, there are no lights. No wreaths. No mistletoe, no tree, no Christmas cookies. You might be thinking, "What, no holiday spirit?" Not so! Our closest family members have driven from all over the state to visit. Mom's been cooking. Our table is piled with presents wrapped in blue and silver, circling not a tree but a menorah. My dad and brother are getting out the yarmulkes. And we're about to eat latkes.
"The holidays" are often a terribly isolating time for me. I don't get offended when people tell me "Merry Christmas," and it doesn't upset me when the decorations on the Arizona State Capitol building are mostly Christmas-themed; it's the holiday that the vast majority of our country celebrates. Even many Jewish kids were raised celebrating both holidays or alternating between years.
But I feel awfully lonely when all my TV shows make Christmas episodes every year without mention of Hanukkah, when you can't go anywhere without hearing "Jingle Bells" and never once hear, well, we don't even get a whole lot of American songs written for our poor, forgotten holiday. "Dreidel, Dreidel," maybe? Or that terrible Adam Sandler song. (Ironically, when I looked the song up on YouTube to find a link, it opened with a Christmas advertisement.)
So when the holidays come around and you're ready to decorate your self-storage facility, think about the other, more neglected winter holidays! You'll warm the hearts of people who are often left out of society's celebration by acknowledging our celebrations, too. By no means am I saying don't decorate for Christmas, but there are a few ways you can incorporate Hanukkah, which begins today and lasts until Dec. 5, into your holiday plan.
If you put lights up on any of your self-storage buildings, decorate one with blue-and-white strings, Hanukkahs traditional colors. If you only decorate the front office, you can always put up a shorter string of lights with Hanukkah images including a menorah and Star of David at the counter or even around part of a tree. Some people will put a Star of David at the top of their Christmas tree to recognize Hanukkah.
When Hanukkah rolls around, you can put a menorah on the counter with the number of candles that corresponds to each nightunlit, of course, until sundown. Make sure you don't light the candles before then or use them for anything other than celebrating the holiday because Hanukkah lights are meant for meditating on the holiday and nothing else.
There are also a couple things you can offer. If you put out a bowl of candy, you can throw in some gelt, which are chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil given out during Hanukkah. You could also offer a bowl of small, inexpensive dreidels, which can be bought in bulk online for pretty reasonable prices.
Just putting a few Hanukkah ornaments alongside the Christmas decorations will make your Jewish customers smile. Whether it's a menorah-shaped ornament hanging from your tree or a Star of David sticker on the wall, any small recognition of the Hanukkah celebration is nice to see.
Participating in charity drives is also a big movement for self-storage locations every year when the holidays swing around. So when you're looking for charity ideas, keep in mind that you can launch a drive for Jewish charities such as the Jewish National Fund or your local synagogue. Giving is encouraged during Hanukkah in the Jewish tradition, too, so it certainly wouldn't be out of place. You can even find a Jewish charity to help through the Jewish Charities of America website!
Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about the music. You could always make a point of playing the same music you play year-round and refrain from the Christmas jingles or at least rotate it with holiday music.
If you take some time to think about other holidays this season, you can make your facility more accessible, and your customers will feel appreciated knowing you took the time to think about the celebrations of the minority. You'll be happy and so will they! Just as long as you don't play Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song."
How do you celebrate the Jewish holiday at your self-storage facility? Share your comments below or on Self-Storage Talk, the industry's biggest online community.
Molly Bilker is a sophomore journalism major at the Downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University. She is interning with the VIRGO Business Solutions Network, writing for Inside Self-Storage. She also writes for the Downtown Devil , a student-run, online publication for downtown Phoenix, where she has assumed the position of blogs editor and copy edits. Molly can be reached at [email protected] .