photo credit: Chuck “Caveman” Coker
Hanukkah, or is that Hanukah or Chanukkah or Chanukah or Hannukkah or …. Whatever, I’ll write it C/hanu(k)kah and now everyone is happy, ok? OK. So now to the grinch.
In just about two weeks, C/hanu(k)kah will begin. The menorahs (or is that menorot? help a Jew out!) will be taken out and lined up. We have 3 hanukkiah that we use, although we have more. And we’ll put up a few decorations. I have some widow clings and a few banners and such. But I don’t go all out. You’re not going to see the Jewish version of the Osborne Lights around these parts any time soon.
For the past few years, BabyGirl has wanted to put up a giant blow up menorah or dreidel in our yard. A few neighbors put out decorations and lights as well as those blow up Christmas things you buy at Costco. Yes, “blow up Christmas things” is their technical name otherwise I wouldn’t be using it.
So we don’t do much decorating, much to the annoyance of BabyGirl. And I don’t go all out when it comes to gifts. On this, I claim Hanukkah purism. Hanukah is not a major Jewish holiday. It’s merely a festival that has morphed into a Jewish version of the secular gift-giving Christmas bonanza. Chanukkah celebrates the miracle of light that coincides with the rededication of the Second Temple.
Hanukkah is an important Jewish celebration. It never was and is not intended to be a gift giving holiday. Growing up, for my family, it was more a celebration of family and friends and the food. I would get small gifts, but nothing significant. Not like my friends who’d get the latest and greatest gadgets or clothing. My grandparents would usually get me one significant gift, usually a piece of jewelry that belonged to my my grandmother or one of my great-grandmothers. My mom usually got me clothes. Definitely something practical.
I never minded. And I never felt like I needed more. It was always so much fun just to make latkes and play dreidel and spend time being a family since my mom worked evenings for several years.
We’d always celebrate Hanukkah in our way. And then on Christmas we would go over to a family friend’s house and celebrate with them. That’s when I’d get gifts more like what my friends would get for Christmas.
Now I’m the mom. I’m the one who needs to share the Jewish tradition with BabyGirl and I’m totally torn between being a good Jew and being happy-fun mom. Somewhere in between is Jewish Grinch Mom and that’s where I feel I’m stuck. I’m the Hanukkah Grinch.
I’m totally into lighting the menorah and playing dreidel and singing the songs and eating the yummy latkes and jelly donuts. I love the ritual aspects of Hanukkah. I’m not so much into the crazy gift giving. And I’m really not buying into the idea of putting up an 8-ft blow up menorah in my front yard.
CycleGuy and I never went all out on the gift giving. And I never felt like I needed to. And up until about 2 years ago, BabyGirl just knew Chanukkah as we had celebrated. Then it all changed and BabyGirl started talking about wanting all kinds of decorations so that our house could be like those in our neighborhood. That’s when Jewish Grinch Mom comes out. I don’t want to put up lights and blow up things in the yard. I think it’s cool, sure. For someone else besides me.
Am I really a grinch? I love Hanukkah. I just don’t want it to become ‘Jewish Christmas’.