Tonight, December 1, 2010 (or, on the Jewish calendar – 24th of Kislev, 5771) marks the first night of Chanukah. The rabbinic (aka non-biblical) holiday celebrating the re-dedication of the Temple after reclaiming it from Antiochus and the Syrian Empire, with no major religious significance… it gained popularity over the past 100 years as the consolation prize and competition to Secular America’s Christmas. As a result of the presents, it also happens to be the most anticipated Jew-holiday by children. This year it comes really early, so we get prezzies before all of you non Jews, ha! Not that that’s a big deal. Since we’re in the throes of the great recession (or depression 2.0 depending on who you ask), this is going to be Chanukah, austerity style. The glory days of eight present-filled nights are long gone.
Those of you who know me know that I am not a big present person in general. More often than not, prescribed gift giving occasions like holidays and birthdays lead more to guilt and forced mutual gift exchanges than to genuine delight. On the other end of the spectrum is my wife, who enjoys nothing more than to spend months researching the perfect gift, and celebrating the hell out of birthdays with wonderful experiences, etc. Where is the middle ground? I’m still searching for it, I think. Complicating matters is the kidlet, bringing a whole new level of meaning, and spoilage to consider. Afterthought presents just won’t fly.
We both managed to agree that we were not buying the munchkin any presents until after her 1st birthday, so at least I don’t have to worry about that. But lo! Last night my wife was kind enough to remind me that she had already thought very carefully about what to get me, even though it was going to be small-ish. Meanwhile, I sheepishly scuffed my feet on the floor, avoiding eye contact. Truth is, I’d barely even thought about gifts, let alone executed any kind of plan. This was on the heels of my blunder last Chanukah where I told her upon opening my very nice camera gift, that it wasn’t the right one. Overrun with hormones, she boiled over, tears of disappointment and hurt streaming down her cheeks. Oops? Then came the discussion about practical v. romantic gifts. If I’m going to give a gift, I want it to come from a purely generous place, and I generally tend to prefer to give “experiences” over gifts, since stuff is and always will just be stuff.
So I’ve got 8 nights to come up with something. Otherwise it’s serious husband failure, and that’s just not acceptable.
I think the baby’s really going to get a kick out of the candles (watching, not holding!) and we’ll definitely sing songs, say the Hebrew blessings and such.
She’s probably a too young for dreidel unless we get a giant one that she can’t eat, and all of the other fun stuff like gelt or latkes. In exciting news though we pureed up some matzo ball soup and while she’s still struggling with textured foods she seemed to like the flavor!