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!

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.

Yes, Virginia, there is a gift that even a picky woman won’t return!

The Christmas season is rapidly approaching, and we all know what that means.

Well, it means absolutely nothing to me, except that I’ll be going to the movies with my parents on December 25, because I have a grand total of zero Jewish friends.

But to the goyim out there (that means non-Jews for all the goyim who didn’t understand that), it really only means one thing:

The mad, panicked search to find a present for the women in your life.

Because in case you didn’t know this already, women are…um… difficult. I don’t mean to shop for. Women are difficult in general. When it comes to shopping for us, women are impossible.

Which is why you’re so lucky that you have me. Because I’m about to decode what women want as presents so that you can buy the lady in your life something that she WON’T return.

Are you ready?

It’s actually simpler than you think as long as you remember one basic underlying principle:  ALL women will tell you not to worry about a present for them. This is a lie. When a woman says this, what she really MEANS is, “You’d better have picked out something super nice for me already, or you will never see me naked again.”

(Or, if it’s a woman buying a gift for a female relative, it means “You’d better have picked out something super nice for me already, or I will make you feel so bad about yourself for the next thirty years that even if you spent every day of the rest of your life in therapy, you couldn’t even begin to undo the psychological damage that I’m about to unleash on you.” Trust me. I’ve messed up on this one before. And I now spend the month before any holiday that requires gift giving huddled under a blanket in the corner of my bedroom sobbing because when I was four years old, I gave a macaroni necklace to a female relative, who shall remain nameless. But it wasn’t my mom. I swear. Please don’t hurt me, mommy.)

Basically, you have to get a present, ESPECIALLY if a woman tells you not to. And you know that expression, “It’s the thought that counts”? That’s up there with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Boogeyman in the closet. Because unlike the monster under your bed (who, in my case, is unfortunately all too real. He’s friendlier than I thought he would be, but he’s still there. His name is Steve. He said to tell you all hi), “It’s the thought that counts” is just one of those lies that parents tell children. And by the time you’re seven or eight years old, you’re not supposed to believe it anymore.

So what SHOULD you buy a woman in order to see her naked again and/or avoid massive psychological trauma? (Because seriously, the PTSD from giving a woman a bad present makes Vietnam vets look totally sane and normal.)

The key is to understand why women want a present: we want to feel like you really understand who were are and what we want. But to quote the movie Sliding Doors, women “don’t say what we want. But we reserve the right to be pissed off if we don’t get it. That’s what makes us so fascinating.”

The trick to finding the right gift depends on what type of woman you’re dealing with. There are four types, and all women fall into one of these four types.

1) The Vickys—These women love underwear, and it’s no secret. If she comes home with a striped pink bag every time she goes shopping, can name more than two Victoria’s Secret models, and/or has any item of clothing that says the word “Pink” on it, you’re dealing with a Vicky.

2) The Bathing Beauties—These are the women who are obsessed with bath products. They have different scented soaps for all seasons. The easiest way to spot a Bathing Beauty woman is to peek in her bathroom. If she has a loofa and more than one type of perfume/body spray, look no further. You’ve identified a Bathing Beauty.

3) The Imeldas—Me. Aka obsessed with shoes. To the point where we pick out our shoes in the morning and then pick out an outfit to match the shoes we’ve selected. If the woman you’re shopping for has ever done that, she’s an Imelda.

4) The Weirdos—non girly girls. If a woman falls into none of the above categories, You might as well just buy her a softball mitt or a powerdrill.

I’m kidding.  She already has both of those. 

Once you’ve identified the type of woman that you’re shopping for, picking a gift is fairly easy. If she’s a Vicky, do NOT pick out the underwear that you would like to see her in.

She’ll hate that. Instead, buy her something from Victoria’s Secret that SHE’LL be comfortable in. If you buy her a comfy robe or cute pajamas instead. Trust me. She’ll WANT to break out the sexy underwear for you if she feels like you appreciate her even when she’s dressed down.

If you’re shopping for a Bathing Beauty, it’s all about pampering. I’m less of an expert in this category because I’m happy with Dove soap and loofas just confuse me. But figure out her favorite store to buy her bath products from (if she’s a Body Shop girl, don’t get her something from Bath and Body Works, and vice versa. Look at the labels in her bathroom and stick with the winner!) and then pick out something that’s geared toward relaxation. They all have home spa products. If you get her something like that, she’ll feel safe and secure because you want her to feel pampered, taken care of, and special.

Imeldas, on the surface, are the toughest group of women to shop for. Because it’s practically impossible to buy shoes for anyone else. But an ex-boyfriend of mine mastered this technique (granted, it was pretty much the only thing he ever did right, but he did this SO well that I kept him around for way longer than I should have) and if that idiot could, you can too. Here’s the secret: if you want to REALLY impress an Imelda, go shopping with her one day.

I know, I know, you’d rather gouge your own eyes out with rusty nails. But trust me. When she spots a pair of shoes that she LOVES, but knows she shouldn’t buy for herself, encourage her to try them on, then be a jerk. Tell her she doesn’t NEED another pair of black leather boots/leopard-print heels/black pumps because they look exactly six other pairs she already has. She’ll get annoyed, which is good because it gives you the chance to make sure you know exactly which pair and which size she liked. Then, when you surprise her with the shoes that she loved in the store but didn’t buy, she’s going to think you’re the best boyfriend/husband/creepy stalker/etc in the world. NOTHING will win an Imelda over like this move will. I would know.

Then there are the weirdos. Most women do NOT want electronics as a gift. But if your woman doesn’t fit into any of the first three categories, you can buy her something practical with a sweet touch (like an ipod, but set it up for her and preload it with music she’ll enjoy), and you’ll probably be fine.

However there is one present that trumps all of the others no matter what type of woman you’re dealing with.

I’ll give you a hint: a dog may be man’s best friend, but ___________ are a girl’s best friend.

Hit it, Marilyn.

It doesn’t have to be a ring, and you don’t have to propose. But diamonds tell a woman that she’s loved. Just make sure you pay attention to whether she’s a white or yellow gold type of girl and pick out something to match. And especially when it comes to diamonds (but, I hate to break it to you, this applies to most things in life as well—sorry), size DOES matter.

Happy holiday shopping!

My name is Sara, and I’m a makeup-aholic… and a shoe-aholic… Help!

Hello my name is Sara, and I’m a makeup-aholic.

And a shoe-aholic. But Shoe Addicts Anonymous meets on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, so today it’s time to address my other raging addiction.

I’ve been addicted to makeup for as long as I can remember. It probably started with my mother, who is also a makeup-aholic. Although she doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem, so I grew up thinking it was normal to be obsessed with makeup.

As a child, the most exciting day of the year wasn’t my birthday, which was just another day because I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup. No, it was Halloween, when I could wear as much makeup as I wanted. And that’s the entire reason why I enjoyed ballet as a little girl: I got to wear makeup for the recitals. (And a tutu, which of course, as the girliest girl on the planet, I would have lived in from age two to age fourteen if I could have. To be honest, if it was socially acceptable, I’d probably still wear a tutu. But, in one of the great tragedies of my life, it’s not.)

Of course, when I got a little older and saw the pictures of myself for Halloween and ballet recitals, I understand why I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup regularly until high school, because I looked like a prostitute in training. And bright blue eyeshadow isn’t a particularly good look on anyone, especially not an eight year old in a tutu.

Now, as an adult, it’s not even that I wear THAT much makeup on a daily basis. My entire makeup routine from start to finish takes less than ten minutes and, when I’m running late (which, let’s face it, when am I NOT running late?), can take far less time than that.

And because I have Rosie, I’ve even been known to leave the house without makeup to walk her (which horrifies my mother). Granted, I don’t walk her further than ten feet away from my building when I have no makeup on, and now that I’ve discovered that a couple of seriously cute single guys live in my building, I’m less likely to walk her without makeup when it’s not 5am. But I AM capable of leaving my house without makeup, which a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say.

Baby steps, but steps all the same.

So what’s the problem?

Ulta and Sephora.

No, those aren’t weirdo new names for children or (because I have no children) my boobs. They’re the two leading makeup stores. And they (along with shoes and Springsteen concerts) are why I might lose my house in the near future.

Because I am physically incapable of passing either store without going in and spending at least $100. Literally. If I walk into a mall and pass Sephora twice, I have to go in both times and buy things both times. That’s not normal.

I can’t explain it either. I DO know, on a practical level, that I don’t NEED every shade of Urban Decay’s liquid glitter eyeliner. I do. But I was SO upset the one time that I wore my one outfit that had some gold in it (because I’m the only Jew on the planet who’s allergic to gold jewelry. Seriously. I don’t know how that happened) and I didn’t have the glitter eyeliner that would have looked perfect with that dress.

Literally. I wound up dashing out to Ulta in my gold outfit and getting there 30 seconds before they closed and BEGGING them to let me in to buy the one eyeliner that I didn’t have because it was the ONLY thing that could complete my outfit. Which they did, because I am single handedly keeping them in business. And since then, guess how many times I’ve worn that gold glitter eyeliner?

If you guessed zero, you guessed correctly. But I have it. Just in case.

I also have the same eyeliner in magenta, fuchsia, mauve, teal, aqua, purple, light blue, royal blue, navy blue, green, forest green, olive green, blue-green, and green-blue, all of which are JUST different enough to convince me that I need to spend the $17 each on them to complete the collection.

Do you see what I mean? I need help.

Every once in awhile (usually when my linen closet, which in my case is actually a cosmetic closet, explodes and spews old makeup volcano-style sixty feet in the air and shuts down all of the airports over the entire eastern seaboard), I decide to throw out the makeup that I haven’t worn in years. Which, to the untrained observer would seem to be a step in the right direction.

But my fellow makeup-aholics know where I’m going with this.

Because then I have room for all of the exciting NEW makeup that I swear cosmetic companies put out just for me.

It’s actually gotten to the point where one of the employees at my local Ulta tries to help me, because he knows that I can’t afford to keep buying makeup at my current rate. So when I go to check out, he holds up everything I’ve brought to the counter and asks me, “Do you NEED this? Or do you just WANT it?” and if I can’t justify why I actually need it, he makes me put it back.

Which means that I go to extraordinary lengths to avoid going to his register. To the point where I’ll call the store to find out his work schedule, then go in when I know he won’t be there.

They say the first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Which I suppose means that I’m on my way. But the real point of this blog post isn’t to explain my problem or recover.

It’s to tell you that if you’re looking for a holiday present for me and you’re not buying me shoes, the next best thing you can get me is a Sephora or Ulta gift card and Curtis’ work schedule for the Ulta in Rockville.

Because makeup may not make the world a prettier place. But only because not everyone wears it.

And it makes me happy. And in the end, isn’t making me happy what the holidays are REALLY about?

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).

The real cause of zombies? Black Friday sales!

It’s finally here. The day I spend all year hiding from, pretending it isn’t coming, hoping that if I ignore it, it’ll go away.

No, it has nothing to do with the Christmas season starting (despite how much my newspaper kids will try to tell you that I’m a Grinch… but that’s really just because I keep unplugging the sound on their computers when they’re blasting Christmas music instead of working—if they played Springsteen Christmas music WHILE they worked, I’d leave them alone), and it has nothing to do with facing a scale after Thanksgiving.

It’s Black Friday.

You’d think that I would love Black Friday. I mean, I’m a champion shopper and, being my mother’s daughter, I’m genetically programmed to sense out any bargains that are occurring within a two-hundred mile radius of wherever I am. (Although I’m not at her level. She’s the Jedi master and I’m just the apprentice. Stores practically pay her to take their merchandise. I still haven’t figured that one out.)

But I don’t.

I fear Black Friday the way normal people fear public speaking and death. The way students with poor grammar who haven’t done their English homework (should) fear me. The way Rosie fears my hairdryer. We’re talking massive, emotionally crippling, panic-attack-inducing fear here.

Why?

Because all humanity disappears as soon as holiday sales begin. It becomes complete and utter anarchy, with people turning into zombies—but not the slow moving, Night of the Living Dead type of zombies. Oh no. That I could handle. I’m talking about the scary, running at full speed, ripping limbs off, and infecting people immediately through any form of contact, 28 Days Later type of zombies.

And I honestly don’t understand it. Why kill each other over a sweater from the Gap? I mean, I don’t even know anyone who wears anything from the Gap anymore, but I know at least three dozen people who would tear someone’s head off and bathe triumphantly in their blood to wrench that sweater away from anyone else who wanted it on Black Friday.

I also don’t understand the people who are willing to wait outside stores in the middle of the night to be there at 4am when they open to get the first pick of the Black Friday deals. The sales last all weekend, people!

And I hate to break it to you, but they’ve got more merchandise in the back. They’re going to restock after the first round of flesh-eating zombies descend on the store. They have to. Otherwise all the other customers would slip in the spilled blood of the fallen.

This year, Hanukkah begins crazily early, so I ALMOST understand why the Jews would be in full-out panic mode to buy presents. Plus, we die if we pay full price for anything. I didn’t think this was true, so I tried paying full price for something one time. My mother appeared out of nowhere and began strangling me. So it’s true. If you pay full price, my mother, or some other Jewish woman (because I’m pretty sure it’s not limited entirely to MY family), will pop out of the woodwork and murder you.

But for all the non-Jews out there, YOU HAVE A MONTH LEFT! If you don’t stuff those stockings now, you STILL HAVE TIME. And there WILL be sales between now and Christmas. Some of them will even be better than Black Friday sales.

All you’re doing by shopping super early is giving your family more time to figure out what you’ve got them. Because children of early-present-buying parents have an almost supernatural ability to figure out what a present is based on examining a gift-wrapped package. It’s true. My brother and I had the senses of a drug-sniffing dog when it was present time. My parents (aka my mother, because my father never has any idea what’s going on present-wise, except for the time he got me a power drill…which I actually was really excited about) thought they were being SO clever by hiding our gift-wrapped presents in suitcases in their closets (which, had we not possessed supernatural x-ray vision to see through to where they were immediately, WOULD have been a great hiding place, because my brother once described my mother’s closet as looking like the shoe room at the Holocaust museum… but scarier and with a LOT more shoes).

But no. Within an hour of discovering our presents, we knew what every single one of them was without even peeling back a single wrapping paper corner. Which we would have done if we had to. I was prepared to go buy a teakettle just to steam the presents open and then re-wrap them. But it was way more fun without unwrapping them. And I’m pretty sure I’m the only person on the planet who can tell the color of the sweater inside a wrapped box.

Then again, it wasn’t exactly a challenge in my family. Because we would be dragged Black Friday shopping every year, forced to pick out things we liked, wrestle them away from the blood-thirsty zombies, then wait in epic line that stretched around and up through three different floors, like the lines for rides at Disney World, while our mother continued decapitating zombies in the store to find more things to buy for herself.

Then we were supposed to pretend we hadn’t seen the purchases that we had just battled to the death for until Hanukkah rolled around.

This year, because I’m in LA for Thanksgiving, I’m hoping that Black Friday will be a less traumatic experience. Maybe it’s all that legal medicinal marijuana, but people in California tend to be more laid back, and I can’t really picture them turning into rage-filled zombies over random holiday presents.

But if I’m not back at school on Monday, I didn’t survive. Luckily, most of the people who fight off those zombies in movies LIVE in LA. So as long as Will Smith didn’t leave town for Thanksgiving, I think I’ll be okay.

And if you’re going shopping today, remember, do NOT start decapitating zombies left and right. To kill them, you have to kill the head zombie.

And if you manage to survive all that, buy me something nice.  Remember, Hanukkah starts next week!
(Hint: my shoe size is 8 1/2! :-p)

You say it’s your birthday…

August 25 is one of the most important dates in history.

No, I’m not narcissistic enough to mean because it’s my birthday. It’s the day Born to Run (the album, not the song) was released in 1975.

 Which was WAY before my time.

But many years later, on the same day, I was born. Call it destiny. (Or call it coincidence if you want to be difficult. I’m going with destiny.)

Yup, that’s me.  At an undisclosed point in the 1980s.

 And don’t worry about how many years later. I was born in the 1980s. We’ll leave it at that for now.

I think the world can be divided into two groups of people: People who love their birthdays, and people who celebrate their birthdays by hiding under their covers in the fetal position hoping that if they hide from their birthday, it will go away.

I am in the second group.

People in the first group don’t understand the second group. And people in the second group hate the first group people. Mostly because people who enjoy birthdays try to inflict celebration on those of us who are trying to hide from acknowledging that we are another year older.

I hate to break it to you birthday enjoyers: we’re not like the Grinch. After you work your magic, we’re not suddenly going to love birthdays. It’s just not in our nature.

My childhood birthdays were usually fairly nondescript. I blame school for this. Kids who have birthdays during the school year get cupcakes and balloons and all kinds of fun stuff. Those of us with summer birthdays miss out. A lot. I think that contributed to my hatred of birthdays.

But as a kid, it wasn’t so bad. At least I never had to go to school on my birthday. And I mean NEVER. My mom actually went into labor with me the day before she was due to start back at school, just as she was on the phone with her sub to say that it looked like she WOULD, in fact, be at school for the first week. I had other plans.

That was also the one and only time in my entire life that I was early for anything. Ever.

My sixteenth birthday was the first one that really sucked. Like every sixteen-year-old girl, I wanted to wake up on the morning of my sixteenth birthday and see a shiny new car, with a big red bow on it, parked in my driveway, waiting for me.

I knew it wasn’t happening. My brother’s bar mitzvah was the following weekend, and my parents had already warned me that I couldn’t expect a car. But I hoped that was a diversionary tactic.

The morning of my sixteenth birthday, I woke up and went to my window. I closed my eyes, making a desperate wish to see a car in the driveway.

And there it was! A red Honda Civic! EXACTLY the car that I wanted!

I felt such joy! I almost cried from sheer happiness.

Then the car backed out of my driveway and pulled away. It had been someone dropping something off for the bar mitzvah.

Then I got my real presents. My mom got me a throw pillow shaped like a car. She thought that was funny. It wasn’t.

 This was when I realized that the Universe hates me.

My twenty-first birthday was even more disastrous.

Well, okay, actually, it was the day AFTER my twenty-first birthday that was so disastrous. I spent about ten hours that day praying to the Porcelain God. But it wasn’t my fault.

No really.

It actually wasn’t.

My doctor (who KNEW I was having a party for my twenty-first birthday because I told him about it) put me on medication that week. And neglected to tell me that it made alcohol two-to-three times stronger. Which explains why the twelve shots that I took almost killed me, because it was really twenty-four to thirty-six shots.

I remember lying on the bathroom floor that day, with my mother, who came over when I told her how sick I was, and crying because I felt so sick, while she kept telling me, over and over again, that I deserved it for drinking so much. She felt pretty bad when we found out it was the medication!

Twenty-two through twenty-four were okay, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. And I have not acknowledged a birthday since twenty-four. Therefore, up until today, I was still twenty-four. It was such a good year that I repeated it. Several times. My brother helped me out though, by agreeing, when he turned twenty-five, to become my older brother instead of my younger brother. Thanks Adam. That’s probably the best birthday present you could ever have given me!

But today, it’s time to turn twenty-five.

I think I’m finally ready.

And if you want to get me a present, order a copy of my book off amazon.com. That’ll make me VERY happy.

But I’m warning you now, if you try to tell me that I’m older than twenty-five, you are not going to make it to YOUR next birthday.

Unless you give me a REALLY good present. My parents gave me the Macbook Pro that I’m writing this on. They can say my real age if they want to. Everyone else, tread carefully!