It’s the third morning of Hanukkah, my son awakens from a night of restful sleep, immediately sits up, anxious to find his present of the day. He looks down the bed and sees… nothing! Why? Because I’m a lame-ass dad who has not established a tradition of daily gift giving during Hanukkah. It’s not that I haven’t gotten gifts in the past. Last year I went with the stall technique, telling them I would buy them some crap during the holiday or if they could wait until February I’d buy them a Netbook (they went with the Netbook). But this is the year to be less lame. This is the year to start a tradition that should have been started years ago. This is the year my children get eight gifts, even if they are lame-ass gifts.
But if I’m going to establish an eight gift tradition, I want to get it right. So… what should I do?
The proven, effective method is the one my parents employed when my brother and I were growing up. Led by my father, we got a bigger gift the first night, and woke up each of the eight mornings to some little gift at the foot of our bed. Traditions were quickly established. One night was always a big bag of M&Ms. Another night my brother got some sort of soap product like soap on a rope and I got a silly little puzzle. It got even more strange from there, as I think my father, and his odd sense of humor, really enjoyed going to Target and buying a bag of silly things for our daily presents. Well, let’s ask him… Hey, Old Man, what was up with those goofy gifts you used to get us on Hanukkah?
‘Old Man’, huh? OK, senility reigns, pal. I don’t remember nuthin’. I don’t know whatcher talkin’ about! I always thought Goofy was a cartoon dog. Target? That’s for archery practice. You got any M&M’s leftover from the Hanukkah you were seven years old and cute? They don’t let me have them in this place you put me. One of the residents here is kinda hot, but she hit me with her walker when I offered her a sip of my Jack Daniels. Did you know that Prozac and Jack Daniels do not mix well? Nurse Ratchett, the floor supervisor, told me I was getting too personal. I’d like to get personal with Nurse Ratchett. Who’s got an odd sense of humor? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Why did you put me here, anyway?
Surprisingly, that may have been one of the more coherent answers I’ve gotten from him in a while. He was in town a couple weeks ago. Would you like to know the wise, scholarly advice and teachings my father passed down to me during his last visit? He taught me how to make a couple balloon animals. True story.
But back to the topic at hand.
Of course part of the tradition for my brother and I was for the week before Hanukkah trying to find the Target bag holding our gifts that was hidden somewhere in the house. I think we only succeeded once. I’m sure this is a bad idea, but… Dad, where did you hide that bag?
I don’t remember nuthin’! Who are you? You look like my son.
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Anyway… I’m guessing many of you out there grew up with traditions, maybe variations of what I described above. I’m ready to start something, something that involves the one gift a night idea that is so unique to this holiday. I want to hear about your traditions, either ones you currently do with your children, or ones from your own childhood, so I can shamelessly steal them, combine them with others, and create my own. My children will thank you.
Send me Nurse Ratchett and I’ll thank you, too.
Thanks Dad, go take your Haldol and leave the nurses alone.
(photo: Liliachd on Flickr)
My mother-in-law has a “dreidel bag” (like a Christmas stocking, for point of reference) that she fills with 7+ small presents. We get our choice of opening them all at once with our one big present, or taking them home with us to open one night at a time (although we usually tear through them on one night…).
To complement our wrapping paper ravaging, my husband and I have, in the past, gotten each other 7 small gifts (less than $10, for the other nights of Hanukkah not spent with our extended family) and had a good laugh about the quirky things we’ve found the other.
So, not totally unlike your family 🙂
We’ve continued my family’s tradition of a nightly gift for 8 nights after lighting the candles. The difference is the process. Everyday around 3pm either I would call my spouse or she would call me with the “What do we have for them tonight?” panic. We’d negotiate who would make the Target run and how much to spend. I think they got used to having their gifts wrapped in a beautiful bag with red and white targets all over it.
Sara, is your mother-in-law hot?
I’d like to take a brief moment of sanity and wish my beautiful granddaughter Maddy (Jason’s little girl) a joyous 11th birthday. She is the bright light at the end of my tunnel and I hope you will all join me in wishing this magnificent little girl a birthday filled with fun, laughter, love, and peace. Happy Birthday, Maddy. I love you!
Why does a Chanukkah tradition have to be about gift giving? Why can’t your playing in a band at my Chanukkah party every year (and bringing the kids along, of course) be a Chanukkah tradition? 🙂
But, seriously… I don’t do Chanukkah gifts every night. I don’t want to make a big deal out of gifts. You can’t compete with Christmas, anyway. Why ruin my favorite thing about NOT being a Christian – not having to go present shopping in December! Not to mention the practical side – with 5 kids, even ten-dollar gifts each night is: 5 kids * 8 nights * $10 per gift = $400 worth of worthless garbage in the house! Plus, if you give your kids a gift every night, shouldn’t your kids get YOU a gift every night in return? And wouldn’t that make them go broke?
In the past, I’ve given my older two kids $50 each, and younger two kids $20 each, and they would pull their meager resources together to get me a gift certificate for a massage, and that was it as far as Chanukkah gifts go. I guess not making a huge deal out of gift giving during Chanukkah is OUR family tradition : ). Plus, of course, decorating the house, eating latkes, lighting the Menorah, playing dreidel, and throwing a huge Chanukkah party (with your band) – all of those are our family Chanukkah traditions…
I think a good tradition to start would be to take the family bowling-seriously! you probably don’t do it any time so why not make it special at chanukkah? Also, buying more crap from Target (while it is a very GOOD company) is basically only financing more crap made in china which is definitely NOT a good thing. If you must buy garbage from china, go with those freakin silly bandz and get the ones with a JEWISH or Chanukka theme!
Here’s an idea: how about bringing Chanukkah to someone older or less fortunate??? Who says you can’t compete with christmas? Last I heard, it was still better to give than to receive. All you have to do is check with your synagogue, the JFCS, or the jewish federation and I bet they can hook you up with someone in need lickety split! Talk about setting a great example for your children!
Okay, one last tradition—soufganiot (jelly doughnuts). Take your kids out for jelly doughnuts which REALLY ARE a chanukkah traditional food just like latkes. (don’t believe me? look it up!)
Right after I finished my passionate speech about the evils of buying our kids a bunch of crap for Chanukkah and stepped down from my soapbox, I ran to Target and got my kids a bunch of crap for Chanukkah. There is a logic here. You just have to be a woman to understand it.
In my defense, I only got enough crap for one night of Chanukkah, not all eight.
Hi! First, I’d stick with night, not morning. (Morning feels a little Christmas-esque). 😉 As for some ideas for new traditions we’ve incorporated with our kids, one of the nights instead of giving gifts, we discuss where we’d like to donate money as a family. Also, we don’t give them gifts each night from Mom and Dad. One night we give them things from my husband’s siblings. One night the things that my siblings sent. One set of grandparents one night, another set the other night. And I also use Hanukkah as time for stuff I would’ve bought anyway like new pjs. Wrap them and stick a bow and them and they become a little more exciting. (But of course my kids are 6 and under so we’ll see how pjs fly in the future.)