What grocery stores get wrong at every Jewish holiday

The Christmas push is on. Red and green and bits of tinsel are being crammed into an aisle or two in many stores. An almost infinite variety of Christmas wrapping paper is popping up everywhere. Last week, I was treated to a host of heavenly angels doing a rendition of some carol while I shopped for peanut butter and cat food.

And in the spirit of multiculturalism, here come the Hanukkah displays: matzah, kosher grape juice and yahrzeit candles.

Every Jewish holiday. Every time.

With the exception of grocery stores in the more Jewish neighborhoods, every Jewish holiday seems to mean a single aisle endcap display of matzah, grape juice and “jelly glass” candles. I’m 55 years old, and this has always been the case.

I’m long past the days of yearning for a tree or a visit from Santa. I take great joy in lighting the several menorahs we have. I finally learned to make latkes from scratch and give my dad grief when he douses them in salt and ketchup rather than applesauce. I still love Christmas carols, still hate egg nog, and I have no problem with mall Santas and cashiers who wish me “Merry Christmas!” as they hand me my change.

Here’s where I get stuck: matzah, grape juice and candles.

You’d think, after all this time, these grocery stores would at least learn to distinguish which Jewish holiday requires matzah, which require menorah candles, and when to put out the yahrzeit candles (hint: people die year-round). I won’t even get into the major retailers who refuse to carry any Hanukkah merchandise in their glut of holiday paraphernalia. It’s 2016, for crying out loud. I’ve called corporate offices. They all have a policy. That’s fine; I have money to burn and other stores in which to burn it.

I’m not calling for a marketing and merchandising confab to ensure Jews have a place at the tchotchke trough. But this time of year, as thoughts of good cheer and family dance in my head, it would be nice if my family and I were considered a part of that dance. And while we’re at it, let’s hear it for Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans and Zoroastrians. Invite them all to the party!