By: Ben Mervis
A common misconception is that Hanukkah holds great importance as a Jewish Holiday… it doesn’t. Actual “big” holidays for the Jewish peoples are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These early-fall events mark the Jewish New Year and come with multiple days of repentance and atonement (aka reflection and self-growth). Fun, right?
As a kid, Hanukkah was a convenient excuse to celebrate while 70% of my friends and all the other goyim (non-Jews) in town were preparing for Christmas. It allowed us to put aside our pre-teen differences and create gift lists in peace. It built a sense of camaraderie as we stole each other’s ideas, and wondered who would, in fact, show up to school with the full set of Spice Girl barbies. ??
When that peace would inevitably fall apart, the arguments were often the same: Hanukkah was better than Christmas because we got 8-days/8-nights of presents. Christmas was better than Hanukkah because 1) you got to put a tree INSIDE the house, 2) you got presents from your parents AND Santa Claus, and 3) there was a chance that you could catch Santa breaking in at night, and become super famous for being that person.
My Bubbe has always been thoroughly unimpressed with both cases, and after I became a bar-mitzvahed MAN at 13-years old, she decided it was time to have “the talk.” It’s around that age that most Jewish elders can be quoted with famous lines such as “we don’t need to do that present thing anymore, right?”
Heartbreaking as it might have been, it was a great lesson to learn that holidays aren’t about material goods, but about tradition, pride, and community. You see, the real gift of Hanukkah as a kid is that every night for 8-nights, my two parents and I would break away from work, homework, Oprah shows, boat magazines, and light the menorah together, sing the Hanukkah prayer/song, and call other relatives to see how their Hanukkah was going.
And because they aren’t monsters, a few material gifts still seem to make their way into the mix each year. But not 8 of them, and usually something practical.
Hanukkah as an adult is an opportunity:
to recall warm memories of Jewish holidays of the past
to enjoy the irreplaceable nostalgia of lighting a menorah
to sing the ONE Hanukkah song
to create new Hanukkah traditions, like replacing candles on the 8th night with Kosher Kush joints, and making your friends help you light and finish them.
I’m grateful for this understanding, appreciation, and that I’ve never once had to wonder if a large jolly man was going to fall down my chimney.
And because there’s a little kid in all of us, and TBPFH I do love presents, here’s my 2018 Hanukkah list. It’s never too late so feel free to DM for my venmo or Amazon wishlist link.
These “adulting is hard” pencils that my mom found and I pretended to hate
17 of these West Elm wall-planters for a new bedroom concept I have
Kush Queen’s Ignite Lubricant (cus baby it’s cold outside)
A long-weekend at Four Seasons Santa Barbara
Donations to some of my favorite causes (oh wait, done, thanks Kush Queen!)
DEFYNT anti-serum for my dry winter skin
Health and happiness for my family and friends <3
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