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The Chanukkah Grinch

I’m not a big fan of Chanukkah.  And by “not a big fan” I mean that I like it about as much as I like Valentine’s Day.  Which is not at all unless you count the candy and then it’s like a 2 on a scale of 1–10.

Here’s the fact about Chanukkah–it’s sort of the religious equivalent to Veterans Day (in fact, it is a war memorial holiday) and it has been elevated to the level of Christmas by both the retail industry and well-meaning people who feel badly that Jews don’t really have a cool holiday like Christmas in the winter.

I don’t feel badly about that fact at all.  I love Christmas and I don’t mind if Christmas has a monopoly on winter.  Purim–in my world–has a monopoly on the dreary post-winter/pre-spring season and I would be all kinds of cranky if people started elevating some random Catholic feast day to the level of Purim and telling me that it was sort of the same thing.

There are Jewish holidays that I love.  Purim is and will always be #1 in my heart.  Succot and Pesach tie for a close second.  Rosh HaShanah and Simchat Torah tied for third.  But Chanukkah is sort of right below Yom Kippur.  I get more out of atoning for my sins (of which there are many) than lighting the chanukkiah.  I am just not a fan of fried foods–either eating them or smelling them.  The only way they could make this holiday worse for me is if they added mayonnaise and crickets to the mix.


Last night, we had over my parents and Lindsay and her family and we got to witness V light the chanukkiah for the first time.  He looked slightly confused and distracted between all of the adults cooing at him and snapping pictures while we sang in a weird language and held lit candles near him.  And he cracked us all up with his tricks with the stuffing over blessing the grape juice during Shabbat.  But getting that time with friends and family, everyone hanging out and eating and talking, getting to witness a little boy taking in a ritual that spans backs centuries and centuries–that melted my little Chanukkah Grinch heart.

The ChickieNob and Wolvog started the melting process on us years ago when we got to witness their first reaction to lighting the chanukkiah and V chipped off the ice a little deeper.  Give me a few more years of good friends and family hanging out in our kitchen and you may one day read a post about how Chanukkah has jumped up in popularity to occupy the third tier of my heart.

Today, I got to meet Addition Problems and CaliLook at us–I am seriously the height of a Smurf.  I got to start feeding W a bottle and Lindsay got to finish.

Cali and W

So that was all kinds of magical as well to finally get to meet Cali and hold W–who have been on the other end of a telephone line or computer screen for the last three+ years.

Tomorrow, I will be at Leah’s, eating cookies and downing Ruby Sippers.  I’ll do the dirty work for all of us and beat her senseless for not posting since September.  A large chunk of the DC IF blogging contingency will be there and I will be live blogging it at this space starting around noon.

People who will most likely be there: Blogless Paz, Hoping for Another Lovebug, Chez Perky, Two Hot Mamas (later in the party maybe), Tales from My Dusty Ovaries, Our Family Beginnings, Body Diaries by Lucy, A Little Sweetness, Sell Crazy Someplace Else, Sunny with a Chance of Hope, and Me.

I will have email access while I’m there so if you want me to ask anyone a question, turn the video camera on them (as long as they are willing), or get a photo with them, send me an email between noon and 3ish with “party” in the subject line so I open it immediately.  Party posts will appear sometimes over here and sometimes right here on Stirrup Queens.

Happy Chanukkah if you’re eating latkes tonight.


1 Delenn { 12.12.09 at 11:13 pm }

I get your opinion on the whole Hannukah thing. I actually studied Judaism in college, and I find some of the holidays you mention far more interesting and meaningful. However, I married into the Jewish tradition, coming from a Christian tradition, and now we are both non-religious…so, we celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas. More in a secular way. A way to bring those cultures into our family. That means we do have a Hannukah party so that we can have latkes and driedal playing. And lighting of the menorah. And any cheesiness or falseness I feel about elevating this holiday to compete with the Santa-ness also going on in my household–its gone when I see my son wearing that yamaka and telling his friend the meaning of Hannukah, or explaining the rules to playing driedal. I think its all in how we use these holidays, not necessarily the holidays themselves…

2 Chris { 12.13.09 at 12:24 am }

In my book no holiday can be all bad if it helps to bring people together for a good time. I can remember celebrating Ground Hog day one year with friends just for an excuse to have fun with friends.

And I’m insanely jealous of the little get-together tomorrow!

3 Hevel { 12.13.09 at 5:13 am }

I am kind of ambivalent on Chanukah. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. I hate that it was turned into this huge shopping and gifting thing. We try to keep that to the minimum, and even with the kids being kind of young, they are aware that Chanukah is NOT our traditional gift giving holiday. We have Purim for gifts, even if LEGO poses a choking hazard as part of the food portions we send out. The kids get one gift each for Chanukah, usually on the first night–delayed this year because it was Shabbat and the gifts were not the Shabbat keeping type of gifts–that keep being used through the whole week.

With the huge Catholic and LDS extended family my kids get plenty of Christmas gifts with which we hold on till NewYear’s Eve when my Soviet-born SIL has a completely secular Pine Tree Celebration with Dyed Moroz and all that stuff.

Chanukah is a time when my family goes to the Kotel, we spend time together, and the kids get to hang out with the cousins.

4 N { 12.13.09 at 6:27 am }

I’m glad it melted your heart JUST a little. 😉

I know I’m not actually Jewish, but I love Chanukah because light in darkness has always been an especially magical thing for me, and to find out there was a whole holiday to celebrate it (okay, and that not dying thing) just makes me happy.

(and I admit, I do like fried foods. heee)

5 HalfofaDuo, RaisingaDuo { 12.13.09 at 6:37 am }


I can see your point about being averse to Haunkah. Here is my take.

I have lost every family member. The DH’s family lives in Greece and only celebrates New Year’s Day anyway (in Greece you don’t get the tree, the gifts and all. It is a very religious time for the Greek Orthodox faith right now).

We are alone. We had to re-create our own little family both here in the boonies of new england and down in the DC area…

When you have family living… no matter the drama or not… it is always such a loving thing. My mother died Jan 14 nearly 6 years ago. She was the linchpin of the family. Her death basically decimated the little family I had left (my stepfather and his kids).

Savor every second of the gatherings. Savor these moments with the young’uns. Document everything too…

I just wrote an entry that is so poignant. It is a dual blog entry by fellow barren woman, and former surrogate, mom to 5 boys who lost her fertility upon her final surrogacy journey. It is called Hero to Zero… in a nanosecond.

About losing a bit of the love and adoration from the boys… towards others in their lives as they make their way into the world.

Savor every second of the gatherings. I’d rather be Zero surrounded by Heroes than… the boys be alone (we will be at relatives for Christmas but were alone at Thanksgiving) in this life… a village surrounding them is necessary.


6 Meghan { 12.13.09 at 8:44 am }

I’m like Delenn. Catholic school girl married a nice Jewish boy from long island. Neither of us are particularly religious or observant but do think family and traditions are important. That’s why I tried my hand at latkes last night and we lit the menorah. Then put on Christmas carols and decorated the tree.
I think your points are similar to the ones devout Christians raise regarding Christmas. It’s not as important a holiday as Easter but it has now been commercialized and something new created.

7 Cara { 12.13.09 at 10:34 am }

There is so much meeting and greeting going on. Wistfulness is my emotion from the freezing cold northeast!! Have a wonderful day and keep eating up that sweet baby!!

8 Barb { 12.13.09 at 12:59 pm }

That sounds FABULOUS! W is getting SO BIG! ACK! Where’s my sweet little bundle huh? And I looove latkes. mm.

SO so so glad you guys got to hang out. It’s about time huh? Kisses to all.

9 Blanche { 12.13.09 at 1:33 pm }

The Barenaked Ladies have a song called Hanukkah Blessings on their holiday CD. As I was traveling to and from the RE’s office for an appointment earlier this month, this song made me tear up both times it came up on my MP3 player. Mel, if I had your gift of putting emotions into words, I could perhaps start to explain the correlation I was feeling between the continuation of light and hope so many years ago, and IF. Maybe one of these years the words will come to me.

In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season bathed in love and laughter as you gather with family and friends.

10 Lavender Luz { 12.13.09 at 3:02 pm }

Purim is fast becoming one of my favorite holidays 🙂

Love to TOOTPU!

11 Gerardine Baugh { 12.13.09 at 4:38 pm }

We played the driedal, and I lost all my chocolate coins. LOL! To me, believing in something is important and second- living with those beliefs the rest of the year. Happy Holidays everyone.

12 coffeegrl { 12.14.09 at 6:46 am }

It’s always a special time when you’ve got family and friends together. I don’t blame you one bit for feeling grinch-ish. All the commercialism and “you should be celebrating THIS way” for every holiday on the calendar makes me crazy. Have fun with all the bloggers in blogland!

13 loribeth { 12.14.09 at 9:43 am }

So glad you finally got to meet Cali & W. After all, you played an important role in getting him here! ; )

I had fun looking at all the photos!

14 Jamie { 12.14.09 at 2:35 pm }

I have become quite a fan of Purim as well, just from reading here! You make it sound (and taste!) fantastic.

15 Bea { 12.15.09 at 3:39 am }

“I don’t feel badly about that fact at all. I love Christmas and I don’t mind if Christmas has a monopoly on winter. Purim–in my world–has a monopoly on the dreary post-winter/pre-spring season and I would be all kinds of cranky if people started elevating some random Catholic feast day to the level of Purim and telling me that it was sort of the same thing.”

Hehe. You crack me up. Although I’m glad – as well as just a teensy bit sorry – to hear you’re getting less Grinchy with age. A bit sorry because, well, nostalgia probably, also, someone has to be Bah Humbug.


(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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