A Thanksgiving To Remember

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The first candle has been lit, Chanukah has started and now our focus has shifted to Thanksgiving…for the moment.

Between the two holidays there is going to be an enormous amount of food and family time and we are grateful for it all. Grateful for many different things such as not being the guy in this picture.

Grateful to have had some life changing experiences this year that I know are going to have a positive effect on myself and my family. Grateful for health. Grateful for opportunity, for possibility and so many other things.

Too tired to write a longer post tonight or to be more serious than this and that feels right to me. Feels right because this is the kind of blend of serious and silly that warms my heart and hopefully yours too.

So from my family to yours, Chag Sameach and my you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

See you tomorrow.

The Time That Jack Got Drunk With 613 Rabbis

It is almost time to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. If you don’t want to use the link you can rely upon my trusty cliff notes on why we celebrate

They tried to kill us

We survived

They Lost

Let’s Eat.

My kids had great fun giving out Mishloach Manot which did not look as nice as those below, but that is ok, because the point isn’t to pass out the best looking, most expensive or most incredible baskets now is it. On the other hand I wouldn’t complain if we had the best Hamantaschen, because let’s face it that would be pretty cool, or maybe not.

Gaily wrapped baskets of sweets, drinks and ot...

Image via Wikipedia

My friend The Rebbetzin’s Husband has a post about drinking on Purim that is worth reading.  I know, not all of my readers are MOT (members of the tribe) so you aren’t familiar with the drinking that goes on. Nor are you likely to be conversant with discussions of how drunk Jews are or are not supposed to get on Purim.

Suffice it to say that I am not in favor of underage drinking nor will I be so drunk that my children wonder how dad can walk. I will however have more than a sniff and perhaps a snort. Rumor has it that a couple of the boys have a special bottle that we’ll enjoy after the Megillah reading and I can’t deny that I am sort of looking forward to it.

At the same time I don’t feel a need to be hungover later so I’ll be measured in my consumption. Nor can I tell you whether I will be in costume or not. I might. I know a few people who like to go in their pajamas but I don’t think that is me.

Loaned Hef my smoking jacket and never did get it back.

Anyhoo, it is almost time to run and some of you are going to ask about the time that I got drunk with 613 rabbis and yes, I have some stories. Hell, I have more than a few stories but I just don’t have time to tell them now. Perhaps I’ll share more later.

In the interim here some past posts about the holiday:

My Children Got Too Many Gifts

My children got too many gifts. They won’t like hearing or reading this but that is not why I won’t say anything to them. I won’t say it because I want them to have the same sort of ‘spoiled rotten’ relationship with their grandparents as I had with mine and they don’t need me to throw cold water on their celebration.

But that doesn’t mean that I am not unhappy about this. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get irritated by seeing them receive 2,982 gifts in one night. To be fair it the grandparents aren’t entirely to blame for this. There are other relatives who give gifts and that adds to the pile.

To be fair one set of grandparents only have my children to focus upon so that impacts things. I know that they buy things throughout the year and then save up for the festivities so I can’t say that it is financially irresponsible.

We have differing opinions about the reason and meaning for this time of year. Fact is we have lots of opinions that don’t intersect or even run parallel to each other and that provides a certain number of challenges of its own.

I watch these children of mine smile, giggle and go googly-eyed over their gifts and silently simmer. I try to maintain a poker face and say that the gurgling noise is just my stomach crying over too much fried food. But that is not true.

What is the point and the purpose of this tsunami of presents. They aren’t all toys. There is a healthy mix of books and clothing intermixed with the gifts but they can’t possibly, read, play or wear all these things at once. It wouldn’t bother me so much if they were spread throughout the year.

It is not jealousy that irritates me either. It is not a competition or game to me. Maybe it is a matter of my asking what message they are getting from this. It is not one that I particularly like or approve of.

In the end I continue to let this happen because I have bigger and more important battles to fight on their behalf, but I can’t say that I will continue to stay close lipped about this.

What do you think?

I Hate Toys That Make Noise

My name is Jack. I am the Jewish daddy blogger who is working hard to write a book and somehow is posting regularly on three blogs. Yes, that is right- three blogs. I update more than often than Lady Gaga changes clothes, what of it and what the hell has any of this got to do with Chanukah.

Well you can blame my somewhat edgy attitude on having been forced to join the hordes today in holiday shopping.  Holiday shopping makes me misanthropic. That’s right, I said misanthropic which is a far cry from being lycanthropic.

I have to be honest and say that my initial plan was to write something far more significant and meaningful than this but Friday afternoon and amidst the holiday shoppers made me want to make like a prophet and not the kind that would stand up and praise the people. No sir, I wanted to climb up on the roof of the lady driving the Red RAV-4 with the Texas plates and tell her that this isn’t cleveland, we have order, decorum and rules here.

I wanted to climb up on the roof of Costco and tell the people that if they don’t stop their stampede for free food fire and brimstone would rain down from the sky like manna from heaven. I wanted to scream at the people in the Trader Joes parking lot to slow down because there simply aren’t enough parking spaces and running me over won’t get you inside any faster.

Instead you will face the wrath of the angry Jewish daddy blogger who will post your picture online and mock you for trying to look cool with a big black thing in your teeth. Yes, I am talking about you lady with the Indiana University sweatshirt. Maybe black things in your teeth are cool in Bloomington but they aren’t here.

Have I mentioned yet that it is Chanukah or that my friend Benji wrote the Idiots guide to Chanukah. Go read it and leave a comment telling him I sent you over there. But don’t forget to come back here.

Here where I will tell you that I hate toys that make noise, but not as much as the people that give said toys to my children. You who provide them with things that beep, whistle and wail are on my list. One day very soon you will wake up in the middle of the night wondering why there is a marching band playing outside your window and then you will remember it is because I sent them there.

I sent them because you gave my child a toy that beeps, wails and whistles. I sent them because you are responsible for the headache that I am currently experiencing and misery loves company.

Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll remember the magic and joy of watching the faces of my children light our menorah. Maybe I’ll remember listening to my daughter tell me that she has toys to give away to kids who don’t have some. Or maybe I’ll remember listening to my son tell me the story about why we celebrate and the questions he asked afterwards.

Because those questions showed me that he isn’t just looking for gifts. He is thinking about his life, his family and the world around him. You see 2011 was filled with all sorts of chaos in our life. We sold our home and moved into temporary housing and he knows that we will be moving again real soon.

He knows that life is filled with challenges and changes and wonders whether turning 11 next week will mark the beginning of magical and mysterious year or something less than that.

Chanukah reminds him that some things don’t change. Family celebrations can take place in different places and these moments in time that he recalls can be special in places that are less familiar. Chanukah reminds him even though life feels a bit upside down and inside out it is not as crazy as he thought.

The dark haired beauty is certain of this too. She wasn’t so sure at first but now she is beginning to sing a different song. And me, well I rant about the hordes because it irritates me to be hit by shopping carts pushed at breakneck speed by people who don’t care what is going on around them. And because I am just grumpy.

But amidst the chaos and craziness I am grateful too. We are healthy, happy and hopeful. Good things are happening now and more are just around the corner. Chanukah sameach to my friends, family and fellow MOTs. I wish you all lots of love and laughter and hope you enjoy your own miracle of lights.

A Thankless Thanksgiving

Technically this post is titled The Hell With The Christmas Spirit. It is my complaint about society’s focus upon doing good deeds and being kind during the holiday season. Read the words below and you’ll gain more insight into my irritation with it.

I dislike it because people are hungry year round and I think that the message is wrong. Don’t just give because some people can’t make Thanksgiving dinner without help. Give because those same people have trouble feeding their families on Monday and Tuesday. Give because Friday morning some kids skip breakfast because mom and dad can’t afford it.

Every year I talk to my kids about this and why we need to give back year round and not just during one particular time.

Every year I blog about why I hate hearing about the Christmas spirit. Inevitably these posts generate a variety of emails from my readers ranging from those that politely try to explain why I am wrong to those that suggest I might engage in some sort of anatomically impossible act or better yet…die.

Well my friends I suppose that were I flexible enough I might consider the middle option. It would save a lot of time and money. Just think I wouldn’t have to engage in small talk, cuddle or try to silently sneak away. The third option isn’t quite as interesting to me as I have quite a few things to do and death is really far down the list. However, I would like to address the man who says that I am going to burn in hell because I don’t share his beliefs. Yes, I am sure about my own beliefs and I don’t need to promote them by engaging in religious terror, but thanks for playing.

The real point of this nonsense is to remind everyone that hunger, hopelessness and hurt do not magically disappear after the holiday season. I simply hate the idea of focusing our attention on giving because of the time of year. I have heard all of the arguments about why it makes sense to make the appeal now and I just don’t buy it.

But this year I want to point the spotlight at a different group as well. Let’s not focus the beam on those who are living on the streets or who are “traditionally” poor. Let’s talk about our friends and family who are struggling in silence. They are college educated, hard working members of society who have fallen upon hard times.

They are men and women who have always been productive members of society, but for one reason or another they are struggling now. They live among you. You know them. You see them on a regular basis but you probably don’t hear their stories. They are sad, heartbroken and uninterested in pity. They don’t want to be lectured about what they could or should have done. They don’t want to be judged for for their situations.

All they want is an opportunity to take care of their families. They don’t want hand outs, but a hand up and their numbers are growing. Each day they are beating their heads against stone, fighting for each inch and wondering what they must have done wrong. It may sound like hyperbole or some sort of sad story that you would see on Lifetime, but it is not.

It is life and it is killing people. Their spirits are being broken and their faith is being crushed. The hardest part for many is the feeling that they are dying a slow death. It is like fighting a giant anaconda that slowly squeezes you to death.

And that my friends is my very happy message of cheer and good will towards men.