Tales of a Middle-Aged Man #65 – Hanukkah

Written by Alex on December 10, 2017 - 0 Comments

Dear Ivan:

December 12 marks the beginning of Hanukkah.  As you know, it is a festival of lights, a celebration of our people’s successful resistance against the Seleucid Empire, and a commemoration of a miracle in which the oil in the menorah of the Second Temple of Jerusalem lasted not one day but eight days.

As you also know, but seem unwilling to accept, is that Hanukkah is not “Jewish Christmas.”  There’s no tree.  No Santa Claus (or Hanukkah Harry), and, yes, you do have to go to school on Hanukkah (unlike on Christmas when the United States shuts down entirely).

On the other hand, Mommy and I are not without sympathy.  We know it must be frustrating that your friends (and your cousins) are gearing up to receive all these great gifts at Christmas, and Hanukkah does not have the same tradition of an early-morning wake-up call, followed by scurrying down the stairs to run into the family room and see what great Hanukkah gifts that Hanukkah Harry left under the decorated menorah.  We get that.

So, in recognition of your plight, we are prepared to provide a few token gifts for you at Hanukkah.  When I say “token” by the way, I mean just that.  You can scratch off the list, anything that is bigger than you are, anything that requires 12 batteries to run, and anything that takes a half-day or more to assemble. Likewise, any items in the triple-digit dollar mark are off the table and out of consideration.

What I’m saying is: manage your expectations.  Think about a Spalding rubber ball or socks or a key chain that lights up, not a racetrack larger than our apartment with 6 race cars that run on hydrovoltaic cells.

However, while I do want to keep your expectations in check, I do want you to have fun.  So, I would suggest you focus on the parts of Hanukkah that are different (and, I would argue, better than) Christmas.  For example, for eight nights in a row you will get to light a fire (to light candles), and I can assure you that no one with a tree in their living room will be lighting any fires inside the home (other than in the fireplace).  So, yes, the upside of Hanukkah is you get to be a firestarter, a keeper of the flame (literally and metaphorically), and no one will be yelling at you to stop playing with matches (unless, of course, you actually do start playing with them, which is dangerous and could start a real fire).

So, Happy Hanukkah Bub!

Love always,


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