Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, but for me it also meant the festival of receiving household items disguised as presents from my parents. As a kid, a huge stack of blue and white gift-wrapped boxes didn’t necessarily mean I had a huge stack of things I desperately wanted. It likely meant that I had one or two awesome presents, and a huge stack of essential items like toothbrushes, socks, cereal boxes, and underwear to fill the eight days of gift-giving. After all, eight days is a lot of days.
But in my lifetime of years as a Jewish person, I’ve realized that Jewish kids (and adults) actually have it pretty great. We get eight nights of celebration and, if we’re lucky, eight nights of chocolate gelt (similar to guilt, but more chocolate-y). We don’t have Jesus (I know that Jesus was Jewish, but we didn’t get to keep him), Christmas trees or Christmas music, but we do have Moses, menorahs and Adam Sandler. And that, my Jewish friends, is very awesome.
As an adult, socks and toothbrushes are fantastic gifts
Kids can obviously be super greedy when it comes to gifts. They have no idea how much money their parents spend making sure they are able to brush their teeth, wash their hair, and not have terrible B.O. all year long. I’d be pretty happy if someone bought me all of my essential toiletries now. They are thoughtful and practical gifts (but Dad, I still want new sunglasses, OK?).
Spinning things is just really fun
My non-Jewish friends seem to be always impressed when I can spin a dreidel (or any kind spinny thing) for so many seconds at a time. I’ve had a lot of practice, and have Judaism to thank for my athletic spinning ability.
Hebrew, like generally
This holiday is awesome for brushing up on some Hebrew. Maybe not a lot of Hebrew depending on how you celebrate, but enough. And knowing SOME Hebrew is way more Hebrew than not knowing any at all. And that’s a pretty cool thing.
The third best part of any holiday is the food (after the gifts and being with family, of course). And Hanukkah is no different. Jews get to eat latkes, matzah ball soup, brisket and donuts. That’s right, DONUTS for dinner.
We get to light candles, and not just recreationally
Sure, there are a few negatives — wax drips everywhere, you’re fearful that at any moment, all the candles will fall over, and you can’t really leave the house until all the candles burn out. But the menorah (which can be pretty rad, in and of itself) is one of the greatest parts of Hanukkah. It’s our Christmas tree. It symbolizes Jewishness, and lets neighbors know we got a little holiday light situation of our own. It’s also just really pretty to look at.
Chinese food and a movie on Christmas
Instead of wearing Christmas PJs and eating meat pies (I’m assuming that’s how Christmas is celebrated), we will be dining at a local Chinese restaurant and seeing a movie at a local movie theater. And we’ll be in bed by 9:30 p.m., just as God planned.
We get our presents before everyone else
The date of every Jewish holiday is based on the Hebrew calendar, and the date of Hanukkah changes every year. But lucky for us, Hanukkah usually comes before Christmas. Which means, we get our presents first! My inner-child appreciates this.
We never have to take down a Christmas tree
We also never get to put one up, but the taking down part seems tedious and boring. If you’re Jewish you get to bypass all of it (until you get married to a non-Jew, then sorry, can’t help you).
No one ever really has to know how to spell Hanukkah
There are at least 15 ways to spell Hanukkah, and none of them are wrong. People just can’t seem to get it together, and that’s fine. If there’s no right way to spell Hanukkah, no one can ever misspell it.
And the all-time funniest part of Hanukkah: the song. Take it away, Adam.