Keith Snyder
Door always open.

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And a merry Christmas to you.

The boys and I were out last night after dark. We do that whenever nobody's sick with a cold or worn out from their day job. We got the oatmeal cookie with raisins from Starbucks and went across Queens Boulevard to the tiny little sitting triangle.

Three Orthodox Jews were there with a fifteen-foot-tall metal menorah, a lot of extension cord, and what looked like a jackhammer.

I watched. Butch ate little chunks of oatmeal cookie. Mac ate Cheerios. He likes cookies, but only because they're fun to throw on the ground.

Here's the scene:

Queens Boulevard is to the left of this bench triangle. The street we're facing is 67th Drive. A little diagonal access roadway off Queens Boulevard and onto 67th Drive is immediately to the right. The menorah's hard to make out, but just follow it up from that metal base. It starts branching at about the same height as those two darker trees do, and it continues up out of frame.

The extension cord is running across the access roadway, into a store. It's not secured or covered. It's just an extension cord running across a street.

The guy in the hood is holding what looks like a small jackhammer, though it might be some sort of industrial-strength Dreml tool or something.

So he saw me watching and said something. I'm not sure exactly what, but the word "Chanukah" was in there. It may have been "Chanukah, eh?" Something to that effect. (And now that I think of it, it was probably chanukiah, the accurate word for this kind of menorah.)

I smiled and said nothing. I don't like big honkin' religious symbols on public streets, and I wasn't sure whether he was speaking English or not. And I wasn't entirely there mentally, having eaten a little wrong and just come out of a really warm Starbucks. So I just gave Butch more cookie and Mac more Cheerios and kept watching.

I was wearing a sheepherder denim jacket, a tan baseball cap, jeans and Timberlands. Probably nothing about me said "Jew" to these men.

Why would such a person be watching silently?

They couldn't get it fired up. Something about the power. One of the two traditionally-dressed men came back across the street, coiling (well, gathering, anyway--maybe tangling) the power cable, and said something about no electricity.

We have little in common, we of different heritages. But we're united by men who can't get electricity to work.

We were done, so I gathered up the Cheerios container and picked up the biggest piece of flung cookie, threw it away, and we started off.

"Happy Chanukah!" boomed one of the traditionally-garbed. I nodded noncommittally and kept walking.

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