By Stephanie Lewis
We know WHO swiped Christmas, but when the holidays roll around, nearly every Jewish family has a potential “ScroogeStein or “GrinchBerg” in the making. Here are 12 signs so you’ll recognize Chanukah Burnout out there in “Jewville.” (Beware – these behaviors are subtle and could be chalked up to just ordinary kvetching!)
- Telling excited children, “Did you know Chanukah is actually a very minor Jewish holiday? Google it. We’re only supposed to light candles. That’s it. Commercialism — Bah Humbug! Your parents should return your gifts and put the money into a college fund.”
- Tweaking lyrics to beloved holiday songs like this: “Chanukah oh Chanukah oh, don’t light the menorah!/Cancel the party, your chance to ignorah!/Gather ‘round the table we’ll all overeat./Dreidel gambling to cheat at, frozen latkes to reheat.”
- Maybe not blatantly handing out lumps of coal, but they’ll sneak in festively wrapped socks, underwear, toothbrushes, vitamins, and deodorant as the eight presents you get to open. (So NOT gifts!)
- Taking the Miracle of Oil thing much too far, they’ll clandestinely drain all the Valvoline from under the hood of your Toyota to see if it will still get good mileage for eight days and nights. Using the dipstick and funnel, they’ll then fashion a crude dreidel. And if you show them a nicer dreidel (that you made outa clay!) they’re a party-pooper by suggesting spinning for broccoli or paper clips instead of yummy chocolate coins or quarters.
- As soon as you begin the traditional ritual of frying up your delicious latkes to a lovely deep golden brown, they embark on a downhill discussion that starts like this, “Did you know that the extra-virgin olive stuff in your pan is oxidizing and forming highly toxic compounds because the molecules have been proven to become unstable beyond a certain smoke point?”
- Making that tired old joke, “This Chanukah instead of Gelt, I’m giving you Guilt!” But then they actually start listing eight ways you’ve done them wrong.
- Their reasons for disliking The Festival of Lights make even less sense as the eight nights commence. Sound familiar? “Chanukah! Who can remember how to spell it, let alone sounding like you have phlegm in your throat pronouncing the starting consonant blend? And reminding others that the ‘C’ is silent! Who needs this narishkeit?”
- Insisting that a lit menorah is a huge fire hazard and also claiming to see evil people in the candle wax drippings – like King Antiochus (whose name they also cannot pronounce!) from the Chanukah story.
- Finding fault with the Muppets who included Chanukah enlightenment in their Shalom Sesame Street special movie. (Why hate on cute little Elmo?)
- Lamenting how awkward it feels to go to a holiday cookie exchange and seeing nothing but sugary-shaped Christmas trees, stockings, Santas, snowflakes, candy-canes and snowmen. But suggest buying a menorah cookie-cutter and they’ll assert that the shamash breaks off in the oven and they have to glue it back together with canned frosting.
- Color Troubles! “Why is Chanukah only blue and white? White’s not even a real color. Red is my favorite. Why do the gentiles get dibs on all the red and green?”
- ‘Elf on a Shelf’ is the latest Christmas tradition they begrudge. But as soon as you announce there’s a Chanukah equivalent, “Mensch on a Bench,” they whine, “Tell me, what would I do with one more chachka?!”
By now it should be obvious (if you’re worth your weight in sour-cream and applesauce!) that “Grinchbergs” are actually feeling excluded and therefore the solution is to shower them with more Chanukah happiness than they can handle. And jelly donuts, of course!
Find more Stephanie D. Lewis on The Huffington Post and at OnceUponYourPrime.com