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Nov 29 2012

How to Do 8 Nights of Hanukkah Without Creating Spoiled Brats

By at 5:07 pm

The Hanukkah I see in children’s books demonstrates families playing dreidel
and eating latkes while the menorah shines brilliantly in the window. Then
there’s the inevitable illustration of the kids’ utter elation when the parents unveil
a bag of gelt night after night.

The scene sounds delightful, but I can’t imagine it’s realistic in all Jewish homes. Let’s be honest: starting in October, lots of Jewish kids obsess over the “holiday” (aka Christmas) catalogues that arrive daily in mailboxes around the country.

Right or wrong, at some point this tradition of 8 nights of gifts as influenced by Christmas has become part of the Hanukkah many of us know and love. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 6 2012

A Birthday Party Without Presents?

By at 1:19 pm

As I was planning my daughter’s 6th birthday, I had to ask myself why so many of us continue to throw big parties complete with an enormous pile of presents. I recognize that the parties are large to avoid hurt feelings, but can we agree that the amount of presents the kids receive as a result is objectionably over the top?

I’m not against the idea of gifts as a rule. It’s wonderfully celebratory to open some beautifully wrapped presents that someone took the time to choose. But when parents feel pressured to invite the whole class, we are talking about 20 or so gifts. I don’t think a birthday is more memorable for our children because of that seventh, tenth, or 18th present. It’s the law of diminishing returns. Certainly receiving 14 new Barbies is no more joyful than receiving, say, four. Read the rest of this entry →


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