Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication. As a father who is responsible for human lives, it is also a reminder that I am getting older and more and more invisible by the second.
During my lifetime, I have watched Hanukkah evolve from a cherished holiday to a cumbersome and burdensome week-plus stretch of time.
There are elements that still give me pleasure, but instead let’s talk about the eight reasons why Hanukkah annoys me.
1. My Two-Year-Old Won’t Stop Singing Hanukkah Songs
Everything my son does is cute. He urinated on my lap, soaking my new J. Crew jeans when I was drying him off from his bath, but it didn’t matter because he’s so damn adorable. He clawed my freshly shaven, tender head with his hangnail, and I immediately forgave him when he said, “I sorry I hurt Dada.”
So when he learned all the words to “Oh Hanukkah” practically overnight, I ate it up. His singing is so precious except when he belts it out late at night, waking up the house.
I hope this is the case with most parents of small children: it seems whenever I’m about to fall asleep, one of my kids wakes up because they are sick or scared. As frustrating as that is, I can accept it because that’s part of this whole one-sided parenting deal.
As I nodded off the other night, I was jolted awake by, “HANUKKAH OH HANUKKAH! COME LIGHT THE MENORAH!” coming from his room. My wife gasped repeatedly from the shock, and my six-year-old was crying. “LET’S HAVE A PARRRY! WE’LL ALL DANCE DA HORA!”
He sounded like Dave Grohl covering Hanukkah hits.
That was not cute.
2. There Are Nine Candles, but Only Eight Nights
What distinguishes Judaism from other religions is that we are taught to question our God and our faith. There are nine candles on the Menorah, but we only celebrate eight nights of Hanukkah. Here’s my question:
What the fuck?
There are no good answers because my question isn’t so much a question as it is a cry of righteous indignation.
I’m 38, and when we dust off the Menorah and I see nine candle slots, I still get tricked into thinking there’s one more night. I get one more shot at getting that great present that will make up for the eight shitty ones.
Then I begrudgingly remember that the ninth candle is only there to light the others. This changeling is called the Shamash, which in Hebrew means attendant, like the bathroom attendant who always has a piece of Big Red handy and a forced smile on his face.
I feel bad for the Shamash because he is the other candles’ bitch. He’s like a caddy but he doesn’t get paid, nor can he wear a golf beret. The eight “real” candles symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah that kept Judah Friedlander and his Maccabees going.
The Shamash is the fluffer of holiday candles, keeping his glamorized counterparts ready before their time to shine.
3. There Are too Many Ways to Spell the Name of the Holiday
There are more ways of spelling Hanukkah than actual nights of the holiday:
4. Candle Wax Gets Everywhere
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I lived in a house of bondage during Hanukkah. How else could you explain the prevalence of melted candle wax on the kitchen table, floor, chairs, carpeting, refrigerator and car door handles?
When I come home, I feel like a submissive attending my 6pm appointment with my dominatrix for some serious BDSM. I get excited for a brief moment, wondering which acts of humiliation are available on today’s menu: whipping, urination, defecation?
Then I remember it’s just Hanukkah.
5. Hanukkah is Now Trying too Hard to be Christmas
My favorite part of attending a Jesuit high school was taunting my friends about how great Hanukkah was and how much Christmas sucked. The conversations and early 90’s colloquialisms went like this:
Me: Hanukkah is dope because we get eight days. Christmas is only one. That’s whack!
Gentile Friend: You’re a herb. You can only get eight presents, and I get like 20 on Christmas.
Me (Lying): I get eight presents from each relative, you Jesus-loving dick-licker.
Gentile Friend: I’m Irish Catholic, Rumple Foreskin. I have literally 300 relatives.
Being out-numbered by our Christian brothers and sisters, we’ve always basked in the glory of our Hanukkah days-to-Christmas Day mathematical advantage. But now look at us. We are such closeted Christmas observers that we erect Hanukkah bushes and hang blue and white lights.
We’re either trying to stick it to the goyim or be more like them.
I put my foot down and said no Hanukkah bush in this house. But holy shit do I love Christmas ham!
6. Hanukkah Falls on a Different Week Every Goddamn Year
I like to kid
all of my my one Christian friend about Christmas, but at least it falls on the same date year after year. Hanukkah starts on the 25th day of Kislev (whatever the fuck that is) and can occur at any time from late November to late December.
It’s like trying to find the Daily Double on Jeopardy. Behind what calendar square does Hanukkah appear? Is it Thanksgiving week? No. Is it the first week of December? Nah ah. Middle of December? Nope. Does it conflict with Christmas? Yes.
7. Gelt Sucks
Gelt can go fuck itself. There is no other candy that is as hard to open and as offensive to the taste buds as gelt.
Now and Laters can be a pain-in-the-ass, the way pieces of wrapper inevitably stick to the hard chewy candy (that keeps Orthodontists rich). But at least it has flavor.
Gelt–if you don’t give up after the 17th attempt of peeling the foil wrapper off–gets trapped under fingernails and tastes like crayons. Go hang out with Necco Wafers, Gelt.
Let’s make bananas foster the official Hanukkah sweet.
8. I Get No Fucking Presents Anymore
I will never get too old for presents. There is something special about the sound and feel of tearing gift-wrap and opening a box to find something just for you inside.
I get to watch my kids experience that over and over again because they get a shitload of presents for Hanukkah. I try to live vicariously through them but I can’t because I have no use for an Olaf doll or Minecraft.
My wife and I agreed this year that we wouldn’t get each other gifts. Instead we’re getting babysitters. That works, but it’s not the same as opening a present.
I’m thinking of crossing out my kid’s name on one of his presents and writing mine.
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