Category Archives: Christmas

Mensches and Elves: Surviving the Mental Load of Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas…One Year at a Time

Anyone else out there holding together the mental load of celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas? It’s hard. I get it.

It’s not just that there are latkes and gingerbread houses to make, mensches and elves to move around, and gifts that require a spreadsheet and an arsenal of color-coded wrapping paper to keep organized. It’s also that Hanukkah is a moving target.

She has the power to show up early, late, or any time in between. She’s ruthless and an annual reminder that we have control over absolutely nothing.

If you want to survive the war of attrition that is Hanukkah (at least from a calendar perspective), you need to understand what you’re up against. Where Hanukkah falls during the holiday season can make or break—or tear to shreds—your holiday spirit and sanity.

It’s a crapshoot every year, but there’s one thing I know for sure. No matter which one we get—The Mindblower, The Marathon, or the Sneak Attack—we will always have eight nights of candle wax to scrape off the menorah in the end.

The Mindblower. Otherwise known as Thankgivukkah. This holiday mashup seems like a good idea on Pinterest, but does anyone really want to do holiday and back to school shopping at the same time? Does anyone want to make a challurkey (challah shaped like a turkey) or cook fusion food recipes like Maneschewitz-brined roast turkey and sweet potato noodle kugel? Does anyone ever want to drink Maneschewitz and eat noodle kugel? The answer to all of these questions is no. The early arrival of Hanukkah ruins Thanksgiving and is a bitch to spell, and in conclusion, may we never hear the expression “Gobble Tov!” again…at least until 2070 when this holiday fender bender is forced upon us again.

The Marathon. Or, the middle place. When Hanukkah falls after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, you’ll have some breathing room, but don’t be fooled by the runner’s high you get a few miles in. By the eighth night of Hanukkah, when you realize the behemoth of Christmas is imminent, you might cramp up, puke, or pee in your pants a little bit. As my Weight Watchers coach used to say, “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” You need laser sharp focus, endurance, fortitude, and crap loads of wine (not Maneschewitz) to survive the relentless middle place.

The Sneak Attack. This is when Christmas and Hanukkah overlap. It’s a good idea in theory, but in execution? Not so much. Last year, when the first night of Hanukkah fell on Christmas Eve, I naively thought I’d killed two birds with one stone— Happy Christmakkah!—and I was an idiot. Do you know what happens after Christmas Eve, the first night of Hanukkah, and Christmas morning when your house is trashed, your hands are covered in wrapping paper cuts, the dishwasher is on its seventh load of the day, and your kids are swinging from the chandelier with chocolate gelt and candy canes dripping out of their mouths? Seven more goddamned nights of Hanukkah. Be careful what you wish for.

2017 has given us The Marathon. I hope your present on this first night of Hanukkah in the murky middle place of December is a comfy pair of new running shoes because you’re going need them.

Happy Hanukkah! Good luck!

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Filed under Christmas, Hanukkah, holidays, Uncategorized

Hey Elf, Don’t Be Creepy!

Last year around this time, my older son asked me if we could “do” the Elf on the Shelf. I responded the way any smart, rational, overtired mother would. I backed out of the room slowly and came back five minutes later with a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn.

I.R.D. (Ignore-Redirect-Distract.) Elf crisis over.

I saw way too many blog posts, status updates, tweets, and memes about that smiling little prick. That spirited shit show ruined relationships and destroyed families. That perky piece of crap took the merry out of Christmas. I survived nine years of motherhood without the Elf on the Shelf, and damn it if I was going to give a f**k then.

Fast forward a year.

“Mom, can the Elf on the Shelf come to our house this year?” This from the nine-year-old with the big puppy dog eyes who will be double digits in a week.

“Can he please?” This from the seven-year-old who finally sprouted permanent front teeth.

I’ve lost my enthusiasm for a lot of parenthood-related things, like birthday parties, science fair projects, and back to school night, but I’m painfully conscious of the fleeting nature of childhood innocence. One day, your kid is writing a letter to the Tooth Fairy and the next day they’re begging for a Snapchat account.

My days are numbered. This I know.

It was impossible to wrap my arms around the concept of moving an elf around the house until Christmas, especially since I sometimes fell asleep before my kids (my husband was quick to point this out), but I caved because childhood… and innocence… and Amazon Prime.

“He doesn’t just show up.” Suddenly I was an expert. “You have to invite him.”

Ten minutes later, both kids handed over formal invitations (on index cards meant for practicing multiplication facts) that I was to put in the mail.

From the nine-year-old:

Hey Buddy, I would like you to come so you can play funny tricks! You seem so famous! This will be my first Christmas with you!

From the seven-year-old:

Hey elf come i love you

I promised to bring the invitations to the post office the next day and made a mental note that, in doing so, an overpriced dog toy would wreck my December and there would be no one to blame but me. Unless the dog ate the elf. Then, I could blame her (note to self).

The seven-year-old looked nervous. “Mommy, is the elf going to come in my bedroom?”

Why is everything magical also creepy?! “No, sweetie. The elf will hang out in the family room. Maybe the kitchen.”

Nerves turned into fear. “I don’t want him to come.”

Crap. “How about if we have a house rule that the elf has to stay downstairs? Okay? The elf won’t be allowed to go in anyone’s bedroom.” Were we talking about the Elf on the Shelf or stranger danger?

His faced relaxed. He left the room and returned a few minutes later with a revised invitation.

Hey elf come i love you

Dont Be creppy OK

Dont go upstairs elf

and dont hide in my bed OK

Turns out I was nervous, too.

elfonshelf

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Filed under boys, Christmas