This is the first year we are really DOING Hanukkah because the kids weren’t old enough to appreciate it until now. We’ve given a few gifts in previous years, but now I feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure Mazzy thinks Hanukkah is just as much fun as Christmas.
That’s a pretty tough job since we don’t have Santa or reindeer or elves making toys in a factory or any of that good stuff.
We’ve got oppression and oil. It’s not exactly a recipe for joy.
Hanukkah gifts typically aren’t huge expensive toys. They are more practical and thoughtful. I spent one night a few weeks ago buying gifts online and went on a few shopping trips for smaller items. I stopped in a stationary store and bought some holiday themed paper. I bought candles and gelt at our local drugstore. At the grocery store, I purchased potatoes and everything we would need to make latkes. I bought a children’s book about Hanukkah at the bookstore. I took out our Mensch on the Bench from last year.
I put everything on my Amex EveryDayCredit Card because it rewards you for the number of purchases you make, no matter how big or small. If you make 20 separate purchases—whether that’s on Amazon to buy the $229 Frozen castle or to the drug store to buy a $2 roll of Scotch tape— within a billing cycle, you could get a 20% bonus on Membership Rewards® points. That’s my gift for just doing the things I would do anyway.
Then I stacked everything in my closet and there it sat for two weeks.
Finally, one night after the kids were in bed, I took out all sixteen gifts, eight for each kid, to start the big task of wrapping. That’s when I realized we didn’t have any tape.
I stacked the stuff back in the closet.
The next day, I put “buy tape” on the top of my to-do list. I got home, put my new tape in the drawer and planned on wrapping gifts later that week.
The day after that was Mazzy’s birthday party. My mom came over beforehand to give Mazzy a gift. Attached to the gift was a card with a Tinkerbell blow-up wand. (Have you noticed they don’t just make regular paper cards anymore?)
We blew the wand up and it popped, causing pre-birthday party tears. The worst kind.
“I can fix it with tape!” my mom yelled, trying to save the day. “Do you have tape?”
I handed her my new tape and watched as she used piece after piece to save a cheap Tinkerbell blow-up toy.
“Please remember to put the tape back when you are done.”
“I bought that tape specifically to wrap the holiday gifts.”
My mother was unable to fix Tinkerbell and it was time to leave. I tried to make Mazzy feel better by telling her she would be getting A THOUSAND MORE PRESENTS at her party and then A THOUSAND MORE PRESENTS for Hanukkah. She calmed down, we had a fabulous time and everyone forgot about Tinkerbell blow-up wand.
Flash forward to Monday night, after the kids were in bed.
“Do you know that Hanukkah starts tomorrow?” Mike asked knowing I did not.
That’s what happens with Hanukkah. Most Jews don’t even know when it begins. We don’t have Advent calendars or a date that stays consistent year after year. We have a moving target.
“Oh crap. I still have to wrap the gifts.”
“You got gifts?”
“Yes, I got gifts. Eights gifts each. And I got dreidels, Hanukkah candles, gelt, wrapping paper, gift tags and stuff to make latkes. WE ARE DOING HANUKKAH THIS YEAR.”
“Okay. Do you have tape?”
“OF COURSE I HAVE TAPE!!!!!”
I opened the drawer to show Mike my tape. There was none. I searched the house. Nothing. I texted Ruth.
“Hi Ruth. Sorry to bother you so late at night, but have you seen the Scotch tape?”
“It’s in the drawer.”
“No, it’s not.”
“I don’t know then. Sorry.”
Ruth always knew. Crap. At 10pm on a Monday night, the night before Hanukkah, I put a coat on over my pajamas, walked five blocks in the cold to the 24 hour drugstore, just to buy another roll of tape.
After all, you can’t have a successful Hanukkah without tape. FACT.
I wrapped all the gifts that night, stacked them on the dining room table and put our Mensch on the Bench on top. I put out the menorah, the candles and the gelt. I positioned Mazzy’s birthday balloons over the whole affair.
Then I realized I could hang the Mensch in the Bench from the two huge balloons we had brought home from Mazzy’s birthday party. It was 2am on Hanukah Eve and I was ready to wow my kids with Judaism!
Even if technically, Hanukah is not that important of a holiday.
The next morning, I woke up and suddenly knew my mother was responsible for the lost tape, even though I couldn’t put my finger on why.
I texted her.
“What happened to my tape??”
“Sorry, I brought it to the party to fix the blow-up wand and then I forgot to give it back.”
The stupid Tinkerbell blow-up wand! I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!!!
My Tinkerbell furor was interrupted when a joyous Mazzy came bounding into our bedroom.
“MOM!!!!! THE MENSCH ON THE BENCH IS FLYING!!!!! ALL THE HANUKAH GIFTS ARE ON THE TABLE!!!!!! CAN WE OPEN THEM NOW??????”
“Ummmm… no. Hanukah doesn’t start until tonight.”
“Can we open them all tonight????”
“Ummmm…. no. You can only open one.”
“Hey, Mazzy. Wanna read a book about Hanukkah? It’s about oppression and oil.”
Don’t worry, Mazzy and Harlow managed to survive until sundown and we all had a very happy first night of Hanukkah.
It’s no Christmas morning, but at least we’ve got seven more nights.
Thank you to American Express for sponsoring this post and for rewarding my numerous trips to the store to buy tape. If you’d like to find out more about the AmexEveryDayCredit Card, click here.