Winter may be coming, but winter break can’t come soon enough!

Tomorrow begins my least favorite month of the year.

Stop calling me a Grinch! It’s not because I hate Christmas!

And for once, I actually have a boyfriend, so Christmas this year will not be spent sitting in a darkened room with my parents and grandparents watching Rooney Mara get anally raped.  

 
 (No, Goodmans don’t typically celebrate Christmas with voyeuristic sodomy. My family made me see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with them last year. And I had to watch that scene sandwiched between my mother and my grandmother. It was worse than the time my dog rolled in another dog’s excrement. We’re talking THAT level of bad.)


And it has nothing to do with my complete and utter lack of understanding of Christmas decorations that have nothing to do with Christmas. (Although I still don’t get why Christians make up random characters to go with their holidays. Jews have the Maccabees and Mordechai and Esther and all, but they are actually related to the holidays they go with. We don’t let a random fat man into our house to lure our children under a tree with presents. Nor do we send our kids to go sit on a strange man’s lap at the mall. Seriously, how does no one recognize that Santa is creepy? And wtf is up with a giant pink bunny hiding eggs? Bunnies don’t even lay eggs! That’s just confusing and equally creepy if it’s the same guy in the bunny suit as in the Santa costume!)

No, December is my least favorite month for three reasons: Hanukkah, cold weather, and school.

Let’s go in order, shall we?

Hanukkah is the world’s worst holiday. And the world’s best holiday because my parents still get me eight wonderful night’s worth of presents. And Sara loves her presents. (Hint hint loyal readers, my shoe size is 8 ½, Ulta gift cards are lovely, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Just saying.)

But Jewish guilt then demands that I make sure that my parents both have presents to open for each of the eight nights. Stupid? Yes. But I’m not telling my parents that it’s okay to not give ME a present for any of the eight nights, so they need something too. Even if it’s something little. And my dad hasn’t purchased a present for my mom since I was 12 (in some indeterminate year in the 1990s. I will give you no more clues to my age than that!), when he started dropping me off at the mall with a credit card and saying “buy your mother something nice.”

The problem? My mom hates everything. Like she’ll literally pick out a present, tell me she wants it, send me all over creation to find it, then decide she doesn’t really want it and make me return it. She doesn’t return it. I have to return it.

Add in that I hate malls, hate the Christmas music that blares in malls at this time of year incessantly (except the Bruce versions, which are acceptable year round), hate holiday shoppers, and hate crowds, and this time of year becomes the stuff of nightmares.

This year, I came up with a solution to the What-to-Get-My-Parents problem. I sent them the following email.

Okay parentals, we have reached the point where you need to give me Hanukkah ideas. I have one tiny present for dad, nothing for mom. Failure to respond to this email with ideas for yourself and/or each other will result in me getting a tattoo of “Mom” in a heart on one butt cheek, “Dad” in a heart on the other, and I will personally deliver and show off said presents at your respective places of business. So please give me some ideas because I really don’t want that crap tattooed on my ass. K thanks bye.

Mom replied that she would work on it.

Dad didn’t reply.

And when I called my dad to tell him that I was on the way to the tattoo parlor to get his present, he said “Cool. Have fun.”

Thanks dad. Really. That was helpful.

Worst holiday ever. And therefore the panic attacks leading up to it when I have to come up with eight things to give my mother (she wants a grandchild, despite the fact that the boyfriend and I have decided that if we DO have a child in the future, we are naming him Jesus Nixon the Baptist III, just to piss my parents off. But that’s one present she’s NOT getting any time soon!) make December the worst month ever.

And even worse? It’s cold out. I’m a warm weather girl. I drive a convertible. I love the beach. And I REALLY hate shivering in the freezing pre-dawn air waiting for my dog to sniff out the one and only spot that she finds worthy of receiving her bodily excretions. (As a teacher, I’m not supposed to use profanity in my daily life, so I need to find creative ways to explain the process my dog uses in finding a spot to shit. Oops. Sorry mama.)

Is it winter break yet? OH WAIT, I still have three full weeks of school to teach in the worst teaching month. Because as kids get closer to time off from school, their behavior gets exponentially worse until even the best behaved students turn into something out of Lord of the Flies, complete with a conch shell, spears, hunting a beast, and killing a fat kid. Add the possibility of snow? You don’t want to think about that. Add in the fact that they KNOW a break is coming, that they’re getting presents, and that it might snow?

If you need me, I’ll be hiding under my desk, rocking like an autistic child. Just 75 more classes to teach after today until winter break. FML.

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my best friend, Ary!  Love ya!

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Holiday shopping? Done. Presents wrapped? Uhhh… Help!

Hanukkah are mere days away, and I’m mostly done with my shopping. Which, for a normal person means that it’s time to kick back with a glass of eggnog, put on your Snuggie, and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

But I don’t drink eggnog. I’ve never had it, but it seems disgusting. Like seriously. That crap smells and looks foul. And it has like 37 trillion calories. If we want to help those scarily starving children in the commercials, that’s what we need to give them. It’ll fatten them right up.

And I don’t own a Snuggie. Because I’m not a crazy cat lady. Yet. And I’m not so lazy that I need to put on a backwards bathrobe to sit on my sofa. (I somehow feel like this blog post is now going to result in my receiving 24 Snuggies as Hanukkah presents. FML.)

And it kinda seems like a waste to watch a black and white movie on my awesome new gigantic super high-def tv that my parents got me for Hanukkah (LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD!!!!!!).

But even if I could do all of those things, I wouldn’t. Because the days leading up to the holidays are usually spent with me hyperventilating in a corner, rocking back and forth like an autistic child in an attempt to calm down.

Because the holidays mean three things that I just can’t handle: wrapping presents, teaching in the few days before winter break, and going to the movies/out for Asian cuisine with my family on Christmas.

I know, I know, none of those things sound bad. But that’s because you haven’t seen me try to wrap a present.

I honestly don’t understand my inability to wrap presents. I’m actually pretty good at folding paper. I can make a kickass paper airplane, and my newspaper hats are works of art. Literally. They used to have one in the National Gallery. Granted, I put it there myself and was promptly escorted out by two guards who could double as NFL linebackers. But the point isn’t how it got there or how long it stayed—the point it that it was there. And still could be for all I know, because I’m not allowed back. Draw ONE mustache on a Botticelli and you’re banned for life. Art Nazis.

But put a present, some wrapping paper, and some tape in front of me, and it winds up looking like a Hallmark store half-digested the present, then vomited it up.

Seriously, my method of wrapping a present is basically rolling the wrapping paper around it like it’s a ball and covering the whole thing with an entire roll of tape. And I see no problem with that. But the people I give presents to are judgmental bastards who expect their presents to look like Martha freaking Stewart wrapped them herself.

Which is why stores that offer complimentary gift-wrapping are my favorite stores in the world. And it’s also why I now hate Bed, Bath and Beyond with a passion that equals my hatred for the Cowboys and for Delaware before they fixed the tollbooth situation. Because they still have a gift-wrap station. But you’re now expected to do it yourself. I learned this the hard way when my best friend put me in charge of buying a wedding shower gift for one of our mutual friends. She figured I could handle that because she still thought they had gift-wrapping there.

What really happened was that I spent 45 minutes at the gift-wrap station until some woman walked by and literally said, “Oh, that’s so sweet that you’re trying!”

I wanted to stab her. I have a freaking master’s degree lady. I’m not riding the short bus to a special school where people have to tie my shoes and button my coat for me. Do you see mittens pinned to my sleeves? No. I just suck at wrapping presents.

Then everyone at the shower laughed when my friend pulled out the present and asked whose kid wrapped it. But on the plus side, my best friend said I never have to buy the presents from us for showers anymore. Because she doesn’t trust me to wrap them acceptably. Which is fine by me because I hate that crap. But she doesn’t seem to want to wrap all of my Hanukkah presents for me, so I’m out of luck.

Which could have something to do with the fact that I gave her STDs for her birthday.

By which I mean, the giant, stuffed variety.

No, really.  That was her birthday present.  Click here to give your friends STDs as a present too!

But I’m getting off topic.  Reason number two why I can’t handle this week: school.

My co-teacher and I have had a countdown going on my chalkboard since we came back from Thanksgiving break, tallying up the number of classes that we’ve taught so far and posting the number of classes that we have left to teach. And we’re down to 25 at the start of this week! Woo!!!

But those are going to be the longest 25 classes of my life. Because kids are CRAZY when they sense a break is coming. You know how animals can sense tsunamis and have an innate understanding that they need to seek higher ground? Yeah, kids can sense time off of school and have an innate understanding that they need to be as ridiculously off-the-wall as is humanly possible. Think Lord of the Flies. Those kids weren’t crazy because they were stuck on an island with a conch shell, no adult supervision, and a beastie. They were crazy because they knew they had time off of school.

I plan to spend the entire week hiding under my desk, Cold War bomb-drill style. And if any kids find me, I plan to scream until they go away.

Survival of the fittest, my friends.

And then there’s the third reason that I fear this week: I have no Jewish friends. At all.

I typically blame my parents for this, because they sent me to a high school that had three Jewish families including us. But they bought me that kickass new tv, so I’ll blame it on Hillel instead. I went to Hillel once in college, and the people there sang. Like after dinner. They sang. And I never went back. Because really, who sings after dinner other than Mormons and people in cults? Apparently Jews in large groups do, and that freaked me out, so I never learned how to bond with other Jews.

Which means that on Christmas, I’ll be going to the movies with my parents. At my age.

I know what you’re thinking: Sara, take that as an opportunity to meet other Jews! They’ll all be at the movies too. And you’re right—I’ll try to make friends with some other Jews. But if they sing when that movie ends, I’m outta there!

Happy holidays everyone!

And if you’re looking for a present for me, what I REALLY want this year is a helper monkey who knows how to wrap presents better than I do! It shouldn’t be hard. Because any monkey is sure to be able to wrap better than I can.

‘Tis the Season… to hide from crazed holiday shoppers!

Ah, the Christmas season.

Aka the time of year when I go into hiding from the end of Thanksgiving dinner until Christmas Day, when I re-emerge to go to the movies with the other Jews.

Why?

Because at this time of year, I hate all of you.

No, it has nothing to do with being a grinchy Jew. I mean, okay, I’m already sick of Christmas music and they JUST started playing it. When I rule the world, the only acceptable Christmas songs will be the Springsteen versions of them. All existing copies of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” along with ANYTHING that Justin Bieber sings will be mandatorily destroyed en masse as part of a new holiday that I plan to create celebrating the destruction of all inferior holiday music.

And it has nothing to do with the decorations. When tastefully done, I like Christmas lights.

It’s not even because the holiday makes no sense. I mean, If Jesus was born on Christmas, why does the calendar, which is clearly labeled BC and AD referring to Jesus, begin a week later? I’d ALMOST buy it if the new year started eight days later, because that would have been Jesus’ bris. But seven days? No.

And don’t even get me started on the Santa Claus thing. In my mind, a fat man who sees you when you’re sleeping and breaks into your house once a year is a creepy pervert who belongs behind bars. Seriously, he knows EVERYTHING all children do all year and you give him open access to your house? What’s next? Gonna let those same kids in a shower with Jerry Sandusky? (Sorry. Had to do it.)

But none of those things are why I spend a full month of the year barricaded in my apartment with the door nailed shut and a shotgun like I’m afraid the zombies (or that Santa freak) will break in any second.

It’s because Christmas ruins my main form of entertainment for a month out of every year: shopping.

I admit it: I shop too much. I inherited the Shopaholic gene from my mother, who doesn’t believe in eating when you’re bored or upset or at any other time for that matter.   Instead, at all times when other people eat, she shops. Seriously. She’s so skinny that you can’t see her most of the time. She could be standing right behind you, right now. And you’d never know. But unless you’re reading this from a smartphone while you’re in line at a store, she probably isn’t. Because that’s where she is. At all times.

If you’ve seen my closet, you know that I’m pretty much the same way. I had to build a cubby system into it for all of my shoes. And even though it’s fairly organized, the EPA still lists it as one of the biggest threats to the environment because it is so full that it could, at any moment, explode, spewing dresses and high-heeled shoes so ferociously into the atmosphere that they would block out the sun, causing the kind of catastrophic environmental crisis that killed the dinosaurs.

My actual closet.  You can’t see the shoes that are along the top left or the bottoms of both sides.  But trust me.  They’re there.

Or, because it’s so densely packed, it could just implode, creating a black hole that would destroy the entire universe.

Actually, maybe the Christmas season every year is a good thing because it prevents me from adding anything to the Closet of Doom (which, incidentally, is the title of the fifth Indiana Jones movie, if they ever make it).

Nah, just kidding, I still shop. I just do it online for a month.

Because the problem is that the stores are completely uninhabitable from midnight on Black Friday until after New Year’s. I honestly don’t understand the psychotic nature of holiday shopping. But it scares me. A lot. How have we reached a point in our society when family bonding entails rushing through Thanksgiving dinner so you can wait in line for a mall to open at midnight to save a few dollars on crap you didn’t need in the first place? I mean, after everyone left my parents’ house Thursday night, my immediate family and I sat around playing Words With Friends with each other on our iPhones. Like a normal, rational family. (Of course, my brother pointed out that if we pulled out the Scrabble set, we could ALL actually play TOGETHER. But no one wanted to do that. Technology reigns supreme in my family.)

Venturing into a store during the month before Christmas reminds me of the victory riots at the University of Maryland after we would beat Duke in basketball, but without the celebratory feel. People are running around, screaming, climbing on things, tearing stuff down, looting, and starting uncontrollable fires. But unlike at UMD, the riot squad is nowhere to be found. That unholy, Lord-of-the-Flies style behavior is CONDONED at Christmas time.

But in the interest of research for this blog (and beauty, because if I don’t go buy something at Ulta every three days, I’m pretty sure they’ll go out of business. My makeup obsession is single-handedly keeping them afloat in these troubled financial times), I ventured out to a couple of stores this weekend. I waited until late Saturday afternoon, when I figured most of the madness would be over. And I was right, the crowds weren’t too bad.

The carnage, however, that the crowds had left in their wake, was horrific. The ground was littered with the bodies of the fallen, and there was even a tattered Confederate flag flying over the scene to complete the Gone With the Wind analogy. And every store that I went to looked the same: just like a DC area grocery store when snow is in the forecast. There was nothing left.

So I retreated to the safety of my house, happy to have avoided being massacred in an attempt at holiday shopping.

I’ll see you all in a month or so when I emerge from hiding.

Happy Cyber Monday!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (A Jewish Girl’s Lament)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land,

Jews went out to the movies, exactly as planned;

In pairs and large groups, they selected their shows,

And headed to Regal, AMC, and Lowes;

Their tickets Fandango-ed, the popcorn they bought,

And through their shows they all talked quite a lot;

When the movies had finished, they left two by two,

And went for Chinese food, as all good Jews do;

 
But me? I’m still stuck with my parents each year,

Which, let’s face it, always is my biggest fear;

“Next year in Israel,” we say at Passover,

But I just pray for Christmas to be over;

Too old to be single, too young to go die,

Each year it’s my mother, my father, and I,

But why, you might ask, don’t I go with my friends,

For Chinese food and movies like on weekends?

The answer, you see, is simple and quite sad,

Of all my friends, there’s not a Jew to be had;

I could blame my parents, for the public school years,

When there wasn’t a Jew among all of my peers;

I could blame Hillel for scaring me away,

With the songs they sang and the games they would play;

But whoever is at fault, and/or to blame,

The night before Christmas is always so lame,

That I vow each year to seek friends who are Jews,

So I’ll never again feel Jew-Christmas blues;

“Next year,” I say, “I’ll find Members of the Tribe,”

(And if they don’t like me, there’s always a bribe,)

And off to the show I’ll go with my buddies,

All of them experts in their Jewish studies;

So Jacob and Ari and Rachel, you too,

Next year please invite me to go out with you,

‘Cause I mean what I say, without any jokes,

I can’t handle Christmas alone with my folks.

 
So Jews, enjoy your movies and Chinese fare,

And Merry Christmas to all you goys out there.

What do Yogi Bear, Bullwinkle, and Santa have in common? No idea, but they’re all on your lawn!

I’m just going to come right out and admit it: I don’t get the whole Christmas decorations thing.

I know, I know, you think I’m just being Grinchy because I’m Jewish. But it’s not that, I swear. I actually really like Christmas lights…when they’re tastefully done.

I’m not a huge fan of all the random Santa stuff everywhere, but I could see the appeal of putting Santa and reindeer on the roof of your house, especially if you have young children. And I’m not going to lie, I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who spends their money on a truly funny Christmas display. Yes, it probably scars young children for life to see a Santa peeing off the roof of a house, but is it really any worse than the idea of Santa making out with your mom?

What I DON’T understand, however, are the insanely tacky OTHER decorations.

It’s no secret that I can’t figure out what a bunny and eggs have to do with Easter (especially because rabbits are mammals and therefore do not lay eggs… mammals, in fact, that are known for excessive fornication… NOT exactly the message that the church usually tries to send), but I honestly think that the Easter Bunny makes more sense than a thirty-foot, light-up Yogi Bear in a Santa hat on your front lawn.

Maybe it’s me.

I mean, I AM a little rusty on the whole meaning of Christmas after all. I must be forgetting the part of the story when Jesus is born and then Yogi turns to Boo Boo and said “Heeey Boo Boo! Let’s go steal a pic-i-nic basket full of frankincense and myrrh for our Lord and Savior!” I mean, if that’s actually part of the story, then by all means, put Yogi in that Santa hat and use enough electricity to fuel a third-world nation for a year to make him light up bright enough to be seen from space.

Otherwise, maybe Yogi should be used for a different holiday.  Or maybe there’s just no place in organized religion for Yogi Bear.

Of course, Yogi is far from the worst of the Christmas decorations that I’ve seen.

For example, I understand the desire to put up a nativity scene. Technically, it’s even a lot more appropriate than all of the Santa stuff. But when I see a nativity scene comprised entirely of Rocky and Bullwinkle characters, I have to wonder if the house actually belongs to a Jew who’s mocking the whole season.

Because kids today don’t even know who Rocky and Bullwinkle are. I mean, I probably wouldn’t know who they were either if not for Cartoon Network and my ex-hippie parents. But even I’m slightly offended when I see Boris and Natasha as Mary and Joseph. And I mean, Peabody was wise, but casting Sherman as one of the Three Wise Men is a stretch. Not to mention Dudley DoRight. And I’m not even going to get into the fact that they had a moose as the baby Jesus.

When I was a kid, I remember pouting and stomping my foot and telling my parents that I didn’t want to be Jewish if it meant that I couldn’t have Christmas lights. But driving around and looking at how ridiculous some of the displays are now has finally made me side with my parents on this one. If I celebrated Christmas, I’d seriously debate destroying some people’s decorations just to stop them from bringing shame on my entire people. Because trust me, if you have inflatable cartoon decorations that are taller than your house, you ARE bringing shame on your entire people.

Because I’m the daughter of a scientist, I always try to find formulas to explain the oddities in the universe. And after many years of study, I finally solved the mystery of the tacky Christmas decorations.

Are you ready? It’s about to get intense. You might want to get some paper and a pencil to follow along with my calculations. Just warning you.

The tackiness of a Christmas display can be calculated by taking the income of the house’s resident, divided by the distance (in miles) of the house from the nearest Walmart.

In layman’s terms, that means that the poorer a person is and the closer he or she lives to a Walmart, the more ostentatious and ridiculous his or her Christmas display will be.

It may seem counterintuitive, because logic would imply that the more money a person spends on a Christmas display, the more disposable income he or she has. But when it comes to Christmas, it just doesn’t work that way. So if you want to appear richer, don’t buy a knockoff purse or a used BMW. Just go minimalist on your Christmas decorations. Like you paid someone else to do it because you’re so rich that you just can’t be bothered to do it yourself.

And if you ARE going to go overboard, do us all a favor: take the decorations down by January 2. If you leave them up until July 4, I personally will not be held responsible for any vandalism that occurs. Even though it will probably be me doing the vandalism.

Just kidding. For legal purposes, I feel it’s necessary to say that I will NOT be vandalizing ANY Christmas decorations this year. (Insert evil laugh here.)

Enjoy celebrating Christmas. Which, if a drive through the neighborhood behind Walmart is to be trusted, is the holiday when we celebrate the birth of our Bullwinkle J. Moose under the star provided by a flying Rocket J. Squirrel, while a Santa-hat wearing Yogi Bear and Winnie the Pooh look on and an overweight white guy lands on a herd of reindeer on your roof.

I’ll stick to my movies and Chinese food to celebrate the holiday.

Happy Hanukkah–er–Chanukah? Hanukah? However you spell it, it’s eight nights of presents!

Hanukkah starts tonight.

Totally exciting, right?

No.

I’m sorry to burst your holiday bubble, but Hanukkah isn’t much of a holiday. But, to be fair, neither is Christmas, when you come right down to it. I mean, if Jesus was born on December 25th, why is New Year’s a week later? It makes no sense. And what on earth does a fat guy in a red suit have to do with Jesus’ birthday?

But I digress.

Hanukkah (and yes, you can spell it with a C. But I don’t. Because then people think it’s pronounced CHA-nukah, like the Cha-Cha, and that just makes me want to start punching people. If you can’t say the “chuh” sound right, just pronounce it like an “h” so you sound less ignorant) is one of the least important holidays of the Jewish year.

I mean, it’s a fun holiday, because it’s got a good story behind it, as opposed to say, Tu B’shvat, when you plant trees, or Lag Ba Omer (which I still haven’t 100 percent figured out. I THINK it has something to do with counting seven weeks from the beginning of Passover. But I have no idea what that means or what you’re supposed to do for it). But the only reason people assign any major significance to it is because it usually falls somewhat close to Christmas and no Jewish parents want their kids to feel left out.

But, teaching at a school with a teeny-tiny Jewish population, I get asked a lot of ridiculous questions about the holiday every year, so it’s time to explain exactly what Hanukkah is.

First of all, no, there is no such thing as Hanukkah Harry.

I don’t know what idiot thought that up, but it was probably a Jew who was making fun of someone for not knowing what Hanukkah was. Unfortunately, now people think it’s true. It’s not. The only people who give us presents on Hanukkah are our families and friends. No random old man comes around to give things to Jews. To throw us into concentration camps or build gallows to hang us all from (we’ll get to that story when Purim rolls around), maybe.

But give us presents? No.

Nor is there a Hanukkah bush.

Yes, some Jews have Christmas tree envy and may choose to get some form of a shrubbery to decorate in December (insert Knights Who Say Ni joke here), but if they do that, it’s their own assimilationist idea, not a religious or culturally significant event.

The basic story behind Hanukkah is that a Jewish military group, the Maccabees, defeated the Babylonians, who after they destroyed the First Temple.

That in and of itself was considered something of a miracle and should be celebrated as such, along with all other Jewish military victories (like the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War) because on the whole, we’re not an athletic people. If you want your taxes done or someone sued, call one of us. Need a doctor? A Jew is a good bet. Need a strong military force? Not so much. So when we DO manage to kick some major ass physically, it’s a big deal.

But that’s not what Hanukkah is REALLY about. Instead, it’s about oil.

No, I don’t mean the kind of oil the Middle East fights over now, and no, it had nothing to do with rising gas prices.

It’s about oil to light a lamp. After fighting off the Babylonians, the Maccabees needed to restore the Temple. But there was only enough oil to last one night, which would not be enough to complete their work. The miracle was that the oil lasted for eight days, just long enough to complete the Temple’s restoration as a place of worship, which is why we light candles for the eight nights of Hanukkah.

So because it’s a celebration more than a day of prayer, we do what Jews stereotypically do best: eat and play with money. We eat potato latkes, which are basically Jewish hash browns (in case any of you who haven’t had them think I misspelled the word “lakes” or something, I didn’t. They’re called latkes and they’re delicious. Especially when my grandma makes them). But latkes are significant because they’re cooked in oil, which is what the holiday is about.

I have no idea how the dreidel thing ties in, and to be honest, I’ve never understood why that game was supposed to be fun. It’s not. Granted, I’m not the world’s biggest gambler. When I go to Atlantic City, I go there to shop because I prefer to KNOW that I’m getting something for my money, like shoes. But even playing for candy in Hebrew School never appealed to me because the rules are kind of flimsy. And I’ve never seen anyone play dreidel when it wasn’t just a way to avoid doing work in Hebrew school.

But Sara, I don’t get it, if Hanukkah isn’t a big deal, why do Jewish kids get presents for eight nights?

Easy.

Because Christian kids get Christmas presents.

It may not be a significant part of the Jewish year (or even the most fun holiday of the Jewish year—presents or not, Purim beats Hanukkah hands down. You dress up like it’s Halloween, and you’re SUPPOSED to get super drunk. Literally. A rabbi told me that you’re supposed to get so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between Haman, the bad guy in the story, and Mordachai, the good guy in the story. Best holiday ever. In fact, best religion ever, just because of that holiday), but American Jewish parents need SOMETHING to bargain with to keep their kids interested in Judaism until they’re old enough to find out about the real way to celebrate Purim. 

And thus the eight nights of Hanukkah presents were born.

I, for one, am grateful to Jesus for that. He may not be my personal savior, and I have no idea when he was actually born, but he’s the reason I get eight presents every December. So on behalf of Jewish children everywhere, and in the words of Homer Simpson, “Thank you, Jebus!”

So to all the other Members of the Tribe out there, I’d like to wish you a happy Hanukkah, no matter how you personally choose to spell or celebrate it. And if anyone has figured out how to make dreidel fun, let me know. Otherwise, just enjoy the latkes and try not to burn your house down with the Hanukkah candles (which almost happened to me last year… more on that later this week when I blog about Hanukkah horror stories).

Only two things can stop Christmas from starting too early: Cthulhu and Festivus

Halloween is over. Which can only mean one thing.

Cheap candy.

Okay, it means two things. Cheap candy and the start of the Christmas season.

Remember back in the day when Christmas season didn’t start until after Thanksgiving? Well if 40 is the new 30 and gray is the new black, I guess Halloween is the new Thanksgiving. Because somehow it’s Christmas already.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sara, stop being such a Grinch just because you’re Jewish.”

It has nothing to do with being Jewish. And I think the Grinch is a totally racist character. He hates Christmas and is the color of money? Dr. Seuss was really an anti-Semitic bastard!

Although, we should have known that already. One of his most famous books is extolling the virtues of ham. And in the end, the anti-pork character decides that he LOVES ham and stops eating kosher. Anti-Jewish propaganda much?

(Not really. Dr. Seuss was actually VERY outspoken against the Nazis during World War II. Big friend to the Jews, despite being of German ancestry.)

I don’t actually mind Christmas. Red is my favorite color. And I like going to the movies. I’m not a HUGE Chinese food fan, but that’s okay, because my family tends to go out for Indian food or sushi on Christmas these days. And I like presents, no matter what the occasion. I’m also a big fan of any event that causes sales. I’m even okay with Christmas taking up an entire month. I don’t LOVE it, but I’ve learned to accept it.

I’m not okay with it starting the second Halloween ends.

Not cool people, not cool.

My newspaper kids have already started playing Christmas music at school. Granted, they’re smart about it, because they know that I’ll tolerate Springsteen’s Christmas songs MUCH longer than any other holiday music.  But if I hear Mariah Carey doing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” one more freaking time, I’m going to lose it. And it’s only November 5th!

I blame Thanksgiving for the expansion of Christmas. Back in the day, a holiday based on eating massive quantities with your family was a big enough event to hold Christmas at bay until the very end of November. But now that everyone is so obsessed with eating right and avoiding obesity, Thanksgiving seems to have lost some of its power as a holiday.

Think about it. Even though a lot of people say it’s their favorite holiday, it’s like trying to hold off Christmas with Flag Day. It’s just not strong enough to keep Christmas in its place. Halloween does a good job of preventing Christmas from creeping into October because picking out a costume takes a lot of time and effort. If not for Halloween, I’m pretty sure people would be leaving Christmas lights up year round and we’d have Santa and Rudolph-themed bathing suits and beach towels by now.

Maybe I would feel differently if Christmas meant more to me than movies and Asian cuisine. Because Hanukkah isn’t much of a holiday. It’s kinda like the Jewish equivalent of the 4th of July.  It’s a holiday built around the idea of getting together with people you care about, eating fried food, and lighting stuff on fire to commemorate a military victory. There’s no reason for the presents other than to keep Jewish kids from feeling left out. But even though we love the presents, it’s not possible to get as into Hanukkah as it is Christmas.

But I have a couple of ideas about how to keep Christmas from creeping further and further into the rest of the year. (It’s like the boiler in the Shining. It creeps. Please tell me SOMEONE reading this—other than my parents—knows what I’m talking about! Please. Leave me a comment or email me if you get the joke. It’ll make me very happy. Even if I don’t know you. Just let me know you’re alive out there, okay?)

Idea #1: we bulk up Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is like a dyke with a hole in it (I mean the Holland kind of dyke! Get your minds out of the gutter). If you can plug the hole, it’ll hold the flood waters back. But otherwise, we’re screwed. So we need to make Thanksgiving a stronger holiday. There are several ways to do this. We could go the Easter route and come up with super random mascots for the holiday. Like the Thanksgiving duck-billed platypus. He brings baby snakes and Ugg boots to good little children. (Hey, it’s no more random than a bunny bringing eggs for Easter!)

We could also incorporate a fear angle into it. Celebrate Thanksgiving just right or a horrible, evil creature will come and destroy mankind. I’d like to suggest the Dark and Mighty Cthulhu (thank you South Park).

If people had to worry about Cthulhu coming to destroy the Earth, you’d better believe they’d would leave Christmas alone until Thanksgiving was over! Praise the Dark Cthulhu, long may he reign!

But for those of you purists out there who want to keep Thanksgiving as a non-religious or fear-based holiday (which, to be honest, it shouldn’t be. It wasn’t a happy occasion for the Native Americans. The pilgrims came bearing the gift of smallpox. What crappy houseguests!), there’s another answer: we need a new holiday between Halloween and Christmas.

Yes.

It’s time to make Festivus official.

Now, in MY family, we already incorporate parts of Festivus into Thanksgiving. We certainly have the Airing of Grievances (usually aimed at me, because my brother, as a doctor, is considered a god in our family). But if we had to get the pole and focus on the Feats of Strength, I think we MIGHT just be able to keep Christmas in December where it belongs. Think about it. We could have Festivus decorations and Festivus songs and Festivus presents. And as a non-denominational holiday, Festivus for the rest of us can REALLY bring the American people together to fight off Christmas creeping.

Who’s with me?

(By the way, you shouldn’t take this post in any way, shape, or form as an indication that I don’t want Christmas presents. I do. I’ll post a list of things I want soon to help you out. But great presents for me fall mostly into three categories: cash, shoes (size 8 1/2), and sparkly things. You should probably start shopping now. All the cool kids are doing it.)