Holiday meanings

The Malibu Times spoke with several Malibu residents and religious leaders about what the holiday season means to them.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

The end-of-year holidays of the Judeo and Christian traditions, Chanukah and Christmas, can mean many things to many people.

When asked what the season means to them and how they plan to celebrate it, Malibu citizens expressed diverse sentiments.

Some look past the religious aspects and focus on a different spirit.

Dawn Walker is the proprietress of “Tops,” the artisan gift shop in Malibu Country Mart that has plied its quirky and original merchandise for 24 years.

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“You gotta have fun,” Walker said.

A patron shopping at “Tops,” Robert Overby (otherwise known as “Baretta”) said he loved spending his Christmas in Southern California. A local author of a series of books detailing his “wild days in Topanga” of yesteryear, Overby has seen many Christmases come and go in Malibu.

“I lived right on Topanga Beach, till they made all us hippies leave. For the New Year? I’m looking forward to success with my books.”

Rabbi Levi of Chabad of Malibu said, “There is incredible darkness in the world now,” but still found reason to celebrate.

“People have a natural desire to get away from the everyday and seek out a sense of joy,” he said. “They seek light in the darkness. That is what Chanukah is all about-the miracle of light, which darkness cannot overcome.”

The rabbi said the spirit of the holiday season is not just religious dogma, but a force that catches people unawares.

“It’s fascinating,” he said. “People surrender to something uncontrolled by the limiting self. One little light dispels a lot of darkness and there is joy.”

The young charges of the Gan Malibu Preschool taking their recreation on the beach near the Malibu Pier on a sunny day were eagerly waiting for the first day of Chanukah. What were they looking forward to the most?

“Latkes,” four-year-old Adellah said.

“Dreidels,” Amelie, three years old, said.

“Presents!” all yelled.

The children and their parents were planning to visit the Malibu Colony Shopping Plaza on Sunday for the menorah lighting ceremony. This year, the menorah was built out of Legos; the wind, however, reportedly blew down the menorah sometime Sunday evening.

Pastor Greg Hughes of the Malibu Presbyterian Church sees Christmas as a time of introspection and reminding oneself of essential truths.

“We have lost a lot of what Christmas is all about,” he said. “It has become commercialized into a reciprocal giving game. Christmas is really about God’s great, undeserved gift to us. So, as Christians, we are called to give to those in need.”

A weekday visitor to the beach, Joel Leifer, said that this New Year “seems to mean a lot of hope, anticipatory hope for the future.”

Leifer noted that this holiday season follows a very charged electoral campaign and a time of divisive national dialogue.

“But I see a lot of change going on politically and personally for friends and for myself,” he said. “This New Year appears to be a symbol of dramatic change and, from the clues I can see around me, there is good reason to be hopeful.”

Malibu resident, as well as screenwriter, playwright and author, Robert Joseph Ahola firmly embraces the Christmas spirit.

“For a few brief breaths in the month of December, there is a shift in consciousness that, to me, is so transformative and so loving, it is almost palpable,” he said. “Kindness seems to come more easily to people and a spontaneous sense of charity. For that reason, I have always felt the spirit of this season.”

Ahola added: “Yes, I do believe in Santa Claus. He lives in all of us.”

However, not all in Malibu share the sentiment. A bewhiskered gentleman named Les, who declined to give his last name, was fishing off the Malibu Pier this week and looking like a certain denizen of the North Pole who was getting in a little R & R before a busy week.

What did Christmas mean to him? “Two words,” he said, “Bah, humbug.”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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