#MomMemes

I’ve been reading and “hearting” a lot of funny, clever, quippy thoughts on Instagram (SO many from @TheFatJewish) and realized, “Hey! I’m funny and clever sometimes.” My husband tells me I say one truly funny thing a year. I think he’s a tough crowd. I like to think I say at least 32 funny things a year, but you be the judge. I’m not the first person to come up with the hashtag #MomMemes. In fact, more than 6,000 others have beaten me to the punch. Not all of my memes will be mom-related, but between sickness, snow days, and winter break, I’ve been in a parenting purgatory of sorts since before Thanksgiving with little time to come up for air, exercise, or contact/conversation with other grown-ups. The struggle is real. Thanks to my friend, Christy, who co-created the vacuuming one — I like to think it doesn’t suck. Ha! Is 11:44am on a Tuesday too early for a cocktail? Day two of winter break and SO many to go…

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What Nobody Tells You About Hanukkah

For nine out of 10 Americans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re Christian or not, Christmas is a big freakin’ deal. Even the buggiest of bah-humbuggers can’t escape the incessant ringing of the Salvation Army bells and the red Starbucks cup fiasco in their social media feeds.

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But here’s what almost 10 out of 10 Americans don’t know: Hanukkah is NOT a big deal.

Because it runs in tandem with Santa’s reindeer, many think that this Jewish holiday must hold a great deal of importance. But truth be told, it’s not even in the Hebrew bible. Historically, Jews gave and received gifts on a spring holiday called Purim. The story of Hannukah, which comes from the book of Maccabees, is a minor Jewish holiday at best. And don’t get me started on the Maccabees. How bummed was I to find out only recently that the heroes of our Hanukkah story were equivalent to modern day religious terrorists?

And then there’s the oil that was supposed to burn for one day but miraculously burns for eight days, hence the eight nights of presents (the part most folks are familiar with). As a child, I felt smug to have a holiday that lasted longer than Christmas and milked more gifts out of my family. As a parent, I’m glad my children have a reason to get gifts at a time of year when they would otherwise feel left out. But truth be told, Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas. If you’re not a kid or don’t have kids, then Hanukkah is hardly a holiday at all. It amazes me how businesses try to capitalize on such a trivial holiday, even making Hanukkah toys for dogs (which of course, I can’t help but buy every year, they’re too funny!).

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Our big holidays are known as the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). They are nowhere near as fun as Christmas and Easter. No candy or presents. No bunnies or fat, jolly white guys (unless you count the sweaty dude in the third row at temple). Kids can miss school — they are excused absences, but absences nonetheless. And for what? To sit in services all day wearing itchy tights and neckties, followed by more sitting around the family dinner table (in Yom Kippur’s case, after a day of fasting). It’s arguable that being in school is more fun than sitting through a two-hour guilt-ridden sermon about why you should come to temple for more than just two days a year for the holidays.

So if you accidentally wish me a Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, don’t feel bad. Or if you wonder why I might not travel to spend Hanukkah with my family, you can stop wondering. Have a very Merry Christmas, and don’t worry about us. We have our Chinese food on Christmas Eve, and our movies on Christmas Day, and we love it.

Goodwill to All: The Season of Giving Back

urlHannukah started last night. But before we started the spoiling, we started a new holiday tradition. Every year before the gifts come in, the unwanted and unused toys go out. I explained to Jed that there are children who don’t have toys and that if he has some he’s not playing with anymore, we should give them to those who don’t have any.

He’s three, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go over, but he was very enthusiastic about going through his toys and giving old ones to “the babies.” Today, he’s going to come with me when we drop them off at Goodwill. And with eight nights of Hannukah, I decided eight presents from us plus a gaggle of gifts from relatives was an awful lot. So I’m starting a new tradition: one night of Hannukah will a “give” night instead of a “get” night. We will choose a charity and give a gift to help others. Since he’s three, I want to pick something that he will understand.

One friend said they donate to the World Wildlife Fund. They do “symbolic adoptions” where you can adopt an endangered species for $50. In return, you get a plush animal, photo, gift bag and card that has the species and adoption information.

I’m a fan of Heifer International, where you donate actual animals to poor countries. For only $20, you can give a flock of ducks to a family in an underdeveloped country. The family can then use the flock for food, make money selling eggs, and better their crops (ducks get rid of weeds).

This year, though, I’ve decided to keep it local. We are going to make an in-kind donation to the Mission Children’s Hospital. I’m going to have Jed help me pick out a new toy to give to a child his age who’s sick in the hospital. I will explain that it will make his stay in the hospital, which can be scary, a little better.

Here’s an interesting article I found on Moneywatch about teaching your kids to give.

How do you teach your children about giving? What are your favorite charities?