This is my entry for the 2018 Writers Anonymous Holiday Challenge! The limit for this was 1,000 to 4,000 words, so I'm sorry that I wasn't able to explain or describe things as well as I usually try to do. If you encounter something you are unfamiliar with, I suggest you look it up on Google (or whatever search engine you prefer) and read about it on a reliable website.
I am fairly new to the My Little Pony fandom; I've only seen about 5 of the episodes of Friendship Is Magic (from about 3 different seasons), the 2017 movie, and basically all of the Equestria Girls stuff. However, since this occurs in the EG world, I think I probably represented the characters pretty well; I hope so, anyway.
As far a I've seen, there haven't been any holiday episodes for the EG, so I decided that, since they're humans, to just use human holidays and put them in our world.
I was homeschooled my entire life, so I apologize if I presented anything about public school incorrectly. I tried to keep the school stuff to a minimum to try and avoid that.
I understand that some Jewish families are much more strict about things such as attending Christmas parties and having friends over on the Shabbot, but I decided to make the MeHopa family a bit less orthodox than that, since there are some real families who are. Also, to translate their last name, if you're using Google Translate (which isn't the best to be using, but it's all I have), I suggest typing in "menorah" into English and translating into Russian. It's not supposed to be the Maori word for bishops, I promise. Other than that, all the non-English words are either Hebrew or possibly Yiddish.
Happy reading, and happy holidays!
"Who's the new girl?"
It was October, and school had started weeks ago. Rainbow Dash and her friends had just sat down to lunch when the rainbow-haired girl had voiced her question. Fluttershy looked over first. "I have no idea. I don't think I've ever seen her before today." The other 5 girls in the group had now turned to stare at the newcomer, who was standing alone, looking around forlornly. "The poor dear. I wonder why she transferred in the middle of the school year?" Rarity flipped her hair out of her face as her brows furrowed in concern. "She looks lonely - let's invite her to sit with us! HI! HEY, OVER HERE!" Pinkie Pie shouted and waved her arms frantically, ignoring Applejack as she ducked the swinging arms and commented: "Y'don't have to be so enthusiastic, there, Pinkie; I'm sure she can hear you."
The new girl looked over at them, her silvery curls bouncing and brushing her blue cheeks, which dimpled slightly as she smiled shyly. Walking over to their table, she shifted her cooler in her blue hands as she breathed, "Hi." Sunset Shimmer interrupted the ever-overly-enthusiastic Pinkie and said, "You're welcome to sit with us." Twilight Sparkle nodded as she stacked up her books and patted the seat next to her.
The girl's navy blue eyes moved quickly as she looked between the 7 friends. Seeing their welcoming smiles, she moved around the table, set her pack lunch down beside Twilight's books, and sat herself down, smoothing her silver shirt and light blue corduroy skirt. Her blue denim jacket had a gray 7-branched candlestick on a yellow sun embroidered on it. "Thanks. You're the first people to notice me. My name's Rebecca MeHopa." "Mee-nohr-rah," Twilight carefully pronounced, repeating the new girl's last name. "What language is that?" "It's Russian," Rebecca replied. "It's how they say menorah, which is the Jewish many-branched candlestick." "Oh, okay; that's really cool. Oh, I'm Twilight Sparkle." Rebecca shook everyone's hands as they introduced themselves.
As they began to eat their lunches, the 7 friends politely asked about the new girl's life. Rebecca, eating the food she had brought with her in her cooler, informed them that her father was a professor in Computer Science, and he had gotten a job at the local university and needed to do some training before he started teaching in January, which is why they had moved here and she had transferred to Canterlot High after classes had already started. Her mom was a hairstylist, and Rebecca had 4 younger siblings. She mentioned in passing that her family was Jewish, and her 7 new friends didn't pry.
Soon the conversation had drifted, and they were all laughing at Pinkie's jokes and a story about Applejack's farm cats. By the time the bell rang, Rebecca didn't feel like the new girl anymore, and she nearly danced to her next class, thrilled to have already made some new friends.
The weeks passed, and by the beginning of December, Rebecca had made many new friends, and she always made time every day to talk to each of them at least a little bit. At lunchtime on the first Monday of the month, she was sitting with Twilight and her friends when Pinkie Pie, dressed in an ugly sweater featuring a polar bear in a 3D tutu, started to pass out invitations to her Christmas party in a few weeks. When she had read her invited, Rebecca's smile faded slightly.
"What's wrong?" Asked a concerned Applejack. Rebecca's head jerked up, and she saw that her 7 friends were looking at her worriedly. "Oh...um...well, I'm not sure I can come to the party 'cause my family doesn't celebrate Christmas." "WHAT?!" Pinkie startled everyone by slamming her palms onto the tabletop, sending the invitations she'd been holding flying all over the table and those seated at it.
"Your family doesn't celebrate Christmas?! That's the saddest-" "Now hold on a minute," Applejack interrupted, "I'm sure they've got a good reason, so let's hear her out an' see what's she's got to say."
Rebecca's cheeks turned slightly purple from the embarrassed blush she was developing. Pinkie looked like she was going to pull her hair out at any moment, but the other 6 were calm, albeit expectant. Cringing, Rebecca said, "My family is Jewish, and Christmas was originally a Christian holiday, so we don't celebrate it. But we do celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, to remember when the ancient Israelites took back Jerusalem from their oppressors. When they were cleaning out the temple, they found the sacred menorah that the Jewish Laws dictated was supposed to never go out. But they only had enough oil for 1 day. They chose to obey the Laws as best as they could, and the oil kept burning for the 8 days it took for them to get more of the sacred oil. It was taken as a sign that they were being honoured for their obedience, and it has been celebrated every since."
Rebecca barely had time to smile before Pinkie, excited once more, grabbed her by the shoulders. "Do you have parties? What are they like?!" The Jewish girl leaned back slightly. "Well, uh...it's a little hard to explain. I could ask Mom if I could invite you over for one night, since Hanukkah lasts 8 nights." Upon receiving eager nods from her 7 friends (and being released by Pinkie), she pulled out her phone and texted her mom for permission to bring her friends over.
"Thanks for inviting us over, Rebecca; it's awesome of your parents to say we could come," Rainbow Dash told her Jewish friend as she opened the door for the 7 of them that following Friday. Rebecca smiled and, closing the door behind them, showed her friends where they could stash their coats. "I'm glad you guys could come."
The 7 friends were dressed in fancy clothes that had blue and white highlights (although Pinkie had managed to find an ugly Hanukkah sweater to wear for the occasion). Rarity started opening a bundle she had brought while Pinkie proudly presented a large container to Rebecca's startled mother. "I looked up the Jewish dietary restrictions and made cupcakes with only certified Kosher ingredients!" Mrs. MeHopa showed the pink girl where she could set up her cupcakes as Rarity started passing out things to the MeHopa family. "Twilight said that Hanukkah is a gift-giving holiday, and I just had to make something for each of you!"
Rebecca, her mother, and her older little sister all gasped with surprise as they gratefully received the beautiful, handmade prayer shawls. Mr. MeHopa smiled as he and the 2 little boys accepted their hand-crocheted kippahs. As her little brothers ran off to their room to change caps, Rebecca picked up the baby of the family and held her as Rarity handed her a soft quilted toy dreidel.
When the boys came back, shouting praise and thanks for their new kippahs, Rebecca got everyone seated on the floor as Mrs. MeHopa brought a 9-branched menorah from the window...and a 7-branched menorah from the top of the china cabinet. Rarity quickly passed out extra headcoverings she had brought for the non-Jewish girls as Mrs. MeHopa placed the menorahs on a buffet sitting out a few feet from one wall. "Not only is this the 6th night of Hanukkah," she informed them as she placed 16 candles in the candelabras, "but this is also Shabbot, our day of rest. Jewish holidays begin at sundown, so we shall light all the candles now to bless them both."
As the girls put their prayer shawls on their heads, with Applejack respectfully using hers to replace her hat (which she set on her lap), Mrs. MeHopa struck a match and lit the Shabbot candles. Adjusting her new prayer scarf on her head, she prayed a blessing in Hebrew, Rebecca silently reciting it along with her. When the prayer was through, the youngest of the boys hopped up and ran to join his mother. Mrs. MeHopa used a match to light the candle in the center of the Hanukkah menorah - "The shamash, servant, candle," Rebecca whispered to her friends - and picked her son up, helping him use the shamash to light the 6 other Hanukkah candles. The whole MeHopa family (except for the baby, who couldn't talk yet) prayed another Hebrew blessing, their 7 guests listening with respectful curiosity.
There was a small silence as everyone watched the tiny flames dance and sway. Then Rebecca turned to Pinkie and tackled her, shouting, "HAPPY HANUKKAH!" As everyone burst out laughing, they stood up and headed for the kitchen, the boys challenging Rainbow to a game of dreidel as soon as Mr. MeHopa had passed out chocolate gelt out to everyone.
Rebecca slipped into her room, retrieving an envelope from her science textbook. She had something to ask her parents about...
"OH MY CUPCAKES, I'M SO EXCITED THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO COME!"
Rebecca grinned as Pinkie tackled her in a huge hug. "Yeah, me, too." Her parents, impressed with how respectful, polite, and kind her new friends were, had graciously given Rebecca permission to go to Pinkie's Christmas party. So, 2 weeks after Hanukkah, Rebecca had put on a white dress and blue jacket and walked into Canterlot High School's gymnasium.
After Pinkie released her and they both laughed over her crazy ugly Christmas sweater (which had flashing green and red lights), they walked into the gym, Pinkie pointing out the food and the photo booth. Rebecca couldn't help but notice that in amongst the Christmas decorations was Hanukkah decor.
Rebecca felt her spirits soar as she joined a group of friends, leaving Pinkie to her self-imposed job of greeter. Rebecca's feet nearly danced to the music's beat as she crossed the gymnasium floor. She felt included, wanted, acknowledged, and welcome, and friendship was the reason.
No matter what religion you have, you should always celebrate friendship.
That's what she figured, anyway.
Thanks for reading!