November 30, 2012

8 Things About Chanukah That Stress Me Out

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What is the issue?

1. The fact that it starts next week. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Were we or were we not just carving the Thanksgiving turkey LAST WEEK?! I’m still trying to say goodbye to November and now you’re trying to tell me that I have to switch gears entirely and pretend to be all pumped for lighting the freaking menorah? I don’t even know where the menorah is right now! I still need to dig up my Chanukah box out of the garage, so I’m going to need a minute. Plus everyone knows that the last few weeks before the new year are some of the most hectic and work-filled of the year. What horrible timing, Chanukah! My schedule does not allow for all of this celebrating. Not yet. And speaking of scheduling, why God WHY does Chanukah have to change dates every freaking year? I know, I know we follow the “Jewish calendar,” but I’d love it if we could work out a consistent schedule from here on out. Possible? I vote that we just keep the festival of lights in/on/or around the week of Christmas because that’s just more convenient for all of us and it’s about time we were all honest about it.

2. That there are like two good Chanukah songs, total. And one of them was written/performed by Adam Sandler. Which is fine, but I don’t feel like it totally counts. Don’t get me wrong though — I’m still totally glowing from all of the Jewish pride he provided all of us back in 1994. He made being Jewish and celebrating something other than Jesus’s bday a whole hell of a lot more socially acceptable. But still, when it comes to blasting some festive tunes and jamming through a good game of dreidel dreidel, it’s pretty slim pickens, soundtrack-wise. I feel like most of the songs we have to choose from are like heavy on the Hebrew and/or way too serious. Is that just me?

3. The menorah and its high fire hazard potential. Every year we light the menorah and every year I burn myself attempting to use the “shamash” to light the rest of the candles. It’s a CHALLENGE for me. I usually burn my finger and/or my entire hand. It’s a lot of pressure to light those guys and sing the prayer WITH an audience I might add. Plus you have to light them in order and those candles melt so quickly and the wax goes everywhere. And then when the whole thing is finally lit up, I get worried about leaving the menorah’s side because my fear is that as soon as I leave the room, the candles will somehow blow out of control and the entire room will burst into flames, ruining Chanukah for everyone, FOREVER.

4. Its length. It lasts eight WHOLE nights and when I was younger, this made Chanukah a DREAM holiday. That’s because eight nights in kid time was like a solid three years. The celebrating felt like it would never end. And the presents? There were literally eight nights of presents! Every child’s fantasy come true! But now that I’m an adult, all “eight nights of anything” does is give me anxiety. Unless this is an eight day cleanse or something health/wellness-y, I’m probably not going to be able to make it. Sorry guys! I’ll show face for the first two nights, but I have stuff to do. And eight nights of presents in this (or ANY) economy, is absolutely uncalled for, don’t you think?! Can’t we just binge on latkes, swap some gift cards and call it a night? No disrespect to you, Maccabees. We all know you guys kicked major ass, which is why I’m drinking this mug of Manischewitz in your honor right now.

5. The entire latke-making process. My dad liked to own this project every single year and all I have to say to that is: “You’re a martyr, dad! We get it!!” This has got to be the most labor-intensive process I have ever witnessed in the kitchen. He literally hovers over the sink, grating potatoes, draining the remains, mixing, and frying for hours. HOURS. I’ve timed him. I think last year he was downstairs slaving away for five solid hours one night. It’s a good thing he takes pride in it because there is no way I’m going to be “taking over” any time soon. And since my mom converted, she will forever wear the immunity belt when it comes to Jewish-themed projects like these. Mazel tov mom, you’ve earned it!

6. The destiny of the gelt we never find. My family used to play hide-and-seek with chocolate gelt, aka those little chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. It’s a tradition, I think? Anyways, it was fun and innocent, but part of me always wondered if my dad really kept tabs on how much of that crap he was distributing throughout the house. Like what happens to the pieces we never find? Did the cat eat them? DID MICE EAT THEM? I can’t even think about it because EW. Also there have definitely been years when I’ve gone searching for gelt only to come across a petrified, grey-ish white piece of gelt that was, at one point in its life, a milk chocolately-brown color. And um, I remember a couple times when I got really desperate and ate a few of these lost soldiers. FYI, not worth the calories you guys!

7. Holiday-themed gambling. I know that playing driedel driedel is designed to be light-hearted and harmless. It’s a game where children bond and families unite! I mean, we play with pennies for God’s sake. Clearly there is not much on the line, but for some reason even this extreme low-risk game of gambling continues to give me heart palpitations. Like whenever I spin “shin” and have to “put one in” I literally have to leave the room and take a moment to collect myself.

8. That it’s not Christmas. I said it and I’m sorry! I’m sorry dad, I’m sorry Moses, I’m sorry everyone. I have Christmas tree envy. I have a lot of it! But at least I’m being honest about it. It’s not Chanukah’s fault. Christmas and Chanukah are very different holidays and that’s okay! But I can’t help it if I cry with joy/sadness watching A Charlie Brown Christmas every single year. I still own it on VHS and if I still had a VHS player, I’d be watching it right now, rewinding to that one scene where Linus recites that moving New Testament Bible verse. It’s a pretty heavy/religious scene and I can recite every single word of it. If this makes me a horrible Jew, then fine. But if it’s okay with the rest of the tribe, I’m going to take in all of these warm and fuzzy Christmas traditions because I’ve been socialized to/they feel really good! And for Chanukah this year, I’m finally giving myself the gift of not feeling guilty about that one time I sat on Santa’s lap when I was five and asked for things I already owned because I knew he was definitely going to skip my house, per usual. I’m letting that go this year because I still feel bad about it and that’s weird! Happy Chanukah to ME! TC Mark

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