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Bah Ch-ch-ch-ch-chumbug!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

I. Hate. Chanukah.

I do.

I really do.

Call me a Scrooge. Or a Grinch. Or whatever.

This holiday has become a shameful mockery of what was intended to be an important message about religious identity. A polemic against assimilation.

Instead, it has become a poor imitation of someone else’s holiday.

What bothers me the most is that Chanukah provides a prolonged opportunity for some of the worst behaviour from our kids. It seems to highlight kids’ tendencies towards greed and ungraciousness. We try to keep the emphasis off the gifts and keep it on the candles, the Chanukah story, dreidels, but with little success. They tear into each night’s gift as though they have lived lives of material deprivation. No amount of lecturing manages to alter their attitudes.

And because we have a child on the autistic spectrum, all of the hullabaloo sets up the conditions for a perfect storm: Late nights, overwhelming sensory stimulation (sights, smells, etc), and the constant danger of disappointment at not receiving what he really wants — video games. Kids without autism, neuro-typical kids we call them, are also challenged by the above changes in their routines but possess the coping mechanisms to handle such changes. A kid on the spectrum, however, can be thrown by any one of them. And as much as the loving adults in his life want to believe that “he needs to learn to cope with disappointment,” for example, insisting that Beernut acquires what at this point appears to be beyond his developmental grasp does little to create peace and harmony here at Beit Frummie.

Oh, how I wish I had possessed the strength to have established better ground rules prior to kids. ZaydeGiraffe has the right idea; some nuts, an orange, a dreidel, and, if you are very lucky, a shirt or something equally practical and call it a day. Or, in this case, a Chanukah present.

Already set apart from their Christmas-observant friends, the Frumettes would stand outside our communal norm. But at least we could focus on the meaning of Chanukah, free of the other shtuss that seems to accompany it.


And, on that happy note…


I would like to thank Streit’s and Doni Zasloff Thomas a.k.a. Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band for providing each of the 16 bloggers involved in #HanukkahHoopla with a little cyber-swag. Their cross-promotional alliance is designed to celebrate Jewish culture with the young generation, a mission of both Mama Doni and Streit’s.

  • Mama Doni’s 2011 Parents’ Choice Award-winning CD, Shabbat Shaboom
  • a Mama Doni poster
  • a Download card for free Mama Doni songs (1 Chanukah song and 1 Passover song)
  • a Bag of Streit’s chocolate Hanukkah gelt.

How can you win? Leave me an awesome comment. On December 29, 2011, I will select one winner at random. Be sure to subscribe to my blog or subscribe to comments on this page so you can find out if you are the winner! If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will select another winner.

Prefer to be contacted via Twitter? Leave your Twitter handle in your comment and I will tweet you if you win.

Not interested in winning? You can still leave a comment! I love to read your words. Just write: “No prize necessary” in your comment.

Please don’t make me work too hard to find you. That will make me kvetchy. Oy.

===> Please head over to Aprons & Blazers who is co-hosting this eighth, and final, day of #HanukkahHoopla with me.

And a huge shout-out to Lessons from Teachers and Twits for pulling this all together.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 8:25 am

    I hope Chanukkah wasn’t too unbearable for you. My 12-year son old has hit that age where he doesn’t even ask for presents. He just wants to relax on the couch, play games, chat with us. It’s beyond fabulous. So hopefully, — autism of not — that day will come for you as he grows and matures.

    Then again, he is an only so it is possible that he is some kind of freak. 😉

    Thank you so much for participating in all of this #Hoopla. I have so loved meeting you and reading all of your posts. I am now subscribed and I look forward to reading about the Frummie family year round.

    PS: I’ll be really glad when we light this last candle. Enough already with the oil. 😉

  2. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 8:35 am

    Ugh. I hear you. Is it really too late to change the ground rules? We just do one little gift at Hanukkah, and it isn’t even wrapped or presented during the candle-lighting time. No wish lists, but a trip together to Target or wherever. Of course, we don’t have any family in town, or tons of Jewish friends/visitors, so we aren’t inundated with gifts from outside sources. This makes it easier to avoid the gift-madness. Then again, we are surrounded by nonJewish families who are talking about Santa 24/7.
    As I said, ugh.
    We—all of us—do what we can with the “imitation of someone else’s holiday,” don’t we? Or rather, we do what we can do downgrade it. Let’s figure it out together.

  3. Kelly permalink
    Tuesday, 27 December 2011 9:06 am

    Thank you for the reminder of what Chanukah is about. It is easy to forgot.

  4. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 9:54 am

    i always appreciate your honest (and transparent) take on things! I hope things went relatively well for you, and yay! Only one more night to go! 🙂

  5. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 9:58 am

    I can so relate Sarah–without the autism factor and with the 15 and 18 year old factor, I constantly strive to steer mine away from greed and toward graciousness. Every time I think I’m closer, they ask what they’re getting that night…. And, I must blame this partly on myself–on wanting them to open something each night. And, even though they are happy with a $10 Starbucks card (or Bagel Chateau gift certificate), I still wish it wasn’t expected….We did light candles without gifts last night and will wrap up tonight with a new pair of pjs….
    I hope you have a Happy Hanukkah and I look forward to reading your posts.

  6. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 11:23 am

    Hi! I used to feel this way 100% . . . it’s helped to establish some routine to the gifts (theme nights . . . ) So now I feel this way like 60%. 😉

  7. Mimi permalink
    Tuesday, 27 December 2011 11:41 am

    And why is there a gift every night? We never did that. And our lovely, princess of an only child who is spoiled in lots of other ways, doesn’t expect 8 gifts. QUICK, rescind the 8 night rule. At 22, all she really wanted was to make latkes. Now there is a family tradition to do. We invited the same 3 families each year. Once again – a Jewish tradition based on eating. Works for us.

  8. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 12:16 pm

    Well said. And I agree completely. Our girls don’t get gifts every night, but they still show HUGE signs of the greed and ungrateful attitudes you allude to. It makes me really angry & frustrated because I feel I’ve tried to foster just the opposite for them. Sigh.

    I hope things will settle down now that Hanukkah is nearly over!

  9. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 12:17 pm

    Oy, I’m sorry that it’s so unpleasant for you. You are giving me inspiration, though, to develop a good game plan while my kiddos are still too small to know any better. Of course, as they get older, they’ll have the joy of comparing with their friends and schoolmates. Great.

    Anyways, good for you for focusing on the meaning of Chanukah, despite the cultural drift which has, so ironically, hijacked this holiday.

  10. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 2:20 pm

    I know that I can’t understand some of the issues you are facing, but I can say that we have managed to avoid the conspicuous consumption of the season very easily so far. My girls gifts this week included new markers, some much needed pants, and $5 to spend at Dylan’s Candy bar (each of these was on a different night) and one night where “our trip to New York” *was* the present. All of these brought big smiles. It helps to live in a community where even our Christmas observing friends really try to play down the buying-part of the holiday. I just posted about our Hanukkah – and it was actually really lovely and very simple. Maybe you can join us next year!

  11. Tuesday, 27 December 2011 11:51 pm

    Totally understand! We don’t even do gifts with my daughter. We’ve never celebrated the holiday as a reason to give gifts. For us, it’s about family, latkes, tradition and candle lighting. I know we won’t be able to get away not doing gifts forever. But hopefully these early years will make a lasting impression.

  12. Wednesday, 28 December 2011 12:24 am

    we changed the rules too…and it kinda rocks. there are so few presents, we enjoy the candle lighting because no one is saying “quick, let’s light so we can open our presents.” we visited friends tonight who gave the kids gifts (oy) but we opened the gifts right away when we arrived so the kids could play with the toys and we had a lovely evening….you can do it! i know you can! #occupychanukah!!!!!

  13. Wednesday, 28 December 2011 10:36 am

    I understand completely. Mine are in college now, but I remember the middle school and high school days when the cell phones would come out after the gifts were opened and all the kids would compare what they’d received. Some of my neighbors are very wealthy and prone to excessive gift giving. My girls got nice gifts but not on the same scale. I think they did ok, but there were issues . . .


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