Category Archives: Hanukkah

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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It’s That Time of Year

Friends,

It’s December 1st. The Elf on the Shelf is officially reaping havoc (and annoying everyone in his path), advent calendars are open for business, Christmas trees are tied to the tops of cars, houses are donned with twinkle lights, and for some us, dreidels, latke recipes, menorahs, and chocolate gelt are being prepped for Hanukkah, which begins on the evening of December 6th.

As such, I present to you one of my favorite posts, A Jewish Mama’s “Christmas for Dummies.” If I can survive it, so can you!

–> https://therunawaymama.com/2014/12/15/a-jewish-mamas-christmas-for-dummies-2/ <–

Enjoy!

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September

When I run up a steep hill, I chant, “Sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries,” for motivation. During the long, hot, sticky, and unstructured weeks of summer, I chant, “September, September, September.”

I love September. I love the weather. I love the foliage. I love the clothes. I love the warm cider and apple donuts. I love the new television season. I love the fresh start and the feeling that anything is possible. I love it all, and I want nothing more than to revel in this most wonderful time of the year.

But it’s a whirlwind. There are birthdays and anniversaries and back to school nights and soccer games and doctor’s appointments and teacher conferences and books to (want to but never actually) read and pumpkins to carve and Halloween costumes to order and crafting fantasies (and failures) and flu shots and school projects and more birthdays and anniversaries and holiday shopping and party planning and the grand finale of ThanksgivingHanukkahChristmasNewYears, at which point I’ll surely chant, “sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries.”

September is like a scrumptious amuse-bouche. It’s a delectable, bite-sized start to an epic meal that always leaves me stuffed to the gills and incapable of taking another bite before the main course ever arrives (except for sweet potato fries because there’s always room for sweet potato fries).

Outside, the trees are turning gorgeous shades of orange, yellow, and red, and I keep telling my boys, “Look up, look up, look up,” because soon the branches will be bare, the wind will whip, the deep cold will settle in, and the next time I come up for air will be mid-January, at which point I’ll wistfully chant, “Summer, summer, summer,” followed almost immediately by, “September, September, September.”

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