Tuesday, December 11, 2007

7 for the Seventh Day

chanukah candles for seventh night

A few weeks ago, Teacherninja tagged me with the seven things meme, in which I'm supposed to share seven weird or random things about myself, and then inflict it upon invite seven others to do the same.

Though I've shared eight things in a meme not too long ago, I started sorting through my abundant idiosyncrasy supply to meet his challenge. I quickly realized that there are just too many odd things from which to choose. (Well, *I* don't think they're odd, but there does seem to be a consensus forming amongst those who know me...)

Since today is the seventh day of Chanukah, I decided to narrow the list to weird or random things about how I celebrate Chanukah.

1. We prefer our donuts without jelly. All of us. I bought one of those Bismark tips for filling them, but rarely bother to use it.

2. When my son was two and a half, he came to me one Chanukah morning, and proudly said, "I lit the candles."

"That's nice," I said, thinking he was engaging in imaginative play. It took a beat before I realized this was a naive and dangerous assumption.

"Show me. Show me the candles you lit."

He led me downstairs and cheerfully pointed to the chanukah candles burning on the table. He then took me to the kitchen, where he explained the furniture ladder he constructed to reach the matches that were stored in a high cabinet above the counter.

Breathing deeply to hide my panic as I put the fire out, I asked him as casually as I could, "So, did you light any other candles today?"

He shrugged and said, "I don't remember." Then he skipped away.

Thank G-d, there was only that one fire

He's fifteen now, and has taught others about fire safety as a Boy Scout. Yet there hasn't been a Chanukah since that he (and everyone else) hasn't had to listen to a fire safety lecture from me.

3. We have a tradition that everyone must give tzedaka before any of the gifts are opened. I dump a pile of change on the dining table, and the kids take from it and deposit it in the tzedaka box.

[begin kvell] This year, a few of the kids insisted on giving from their own money, instead of using mine! [end kvell]

4. We light with candles. After too many mishaps with olive oil, we've decided (for us) it's more mehudar (beautifying) to keep our house unchared and my heart out of my teeth.

I ordered a case of 48 candle boxes about eight years ago, and still have about half of it. The candles cost about 20 cents a box this way. I think we're building up stock, however, as we get a few boxes each year from tzedaka mail, my mother, and this year the PTA sent each child home with their own box.

These trays go under each person's menorah.

5. Over the years, we've developed a system we like that lets the kids receive a gift for each night of Chanukah, without overdoing the consumerism, mess, and needless acquisition (and acquisitiveness.) I hope.

A few weeks before Chanukah, I hang a large personalized black bag for each family member on a portable garment rack in our hallway. Also hanging on this rack, is another bag that holds a collection of reusable fabric bags for wrapping the gifts. I made these using colorful fabrics from torn t-shirts and stained tablecloths.

chanukah gift bags on the garment rack

An old t-shirt being made into three quick gift bags:  turn shirt inside out, seam across the chest, under the armpits, and then seam each sleeve below the shoulder.  Cut excess with pinking scissors.  Voila!  Two small bags and one large one.(Here's an old t-shirt being made into three quick gift bags: turn shirt inside out, seam across the chest, under the armpits, and then seam each sleeve below the shoulder. Cut excess with pinking scissors. Voila! Two small bags and one large one. We tie them with pipe cleaners - easy to remove and reusable, too.)

When the grandparents and aunts ship gifts to the children, they know they needn't bother with (or pay for) wrapping paper. As the gifts arrive, I put them in the gift bags, and then in the appropriate big black bag.

By the time Chanukah arrives, there are usually five gifts in each child's bag from the grandparents and aunts, leaving me with three gifts per child to get. For the girls, I provide a hair ornament, a book, and a craft supply. For my son, it's a book, a larger pair of slippers, and a roll of duct tape. (This is not a gag gift. He loves making things from duct tape.)

The idea is to have something for them to open each night, without accumulating a bunch of unnecessary stuff, and without a trash bag full of expensive and unappreciated wrapping paper.

I also like this system because it extends the anticipation, and allows each gift to have its own spotlight night. Since the wrapping bags come from home, when the children reach into their bags to select a gift, they really don't know whether they are getting an extravagant gift from a grandparent, a toy from an aunt, or very modest gift from us.

Even when they know what they're getting, they don't know which night they'll choose it. This also makes it much more difficult for the children to compare what they receive to what their siblings get.

6. When something does arrive in wrapping paper, (surprise!) I save and hoard it for crafts.

Gretta's book made from salvaged chanukah wrapping paper and a cardboard candy box

7. I made our chanukah napkins knowingly using fabric that has a misprint on it, because the fabric was $1 /yard on clearance one February (ten years ago!)

misprinted chanukah fabric

It has a chet on the dreidel, not a hey. Useful acronyms, anyone? Neis Gadol ???? Sham?

And now for the next victims lucky tagees:
FernChasida, AidelMaidel , Miriam, Jendeis, BabkaNosher, Ayelet, Tzipporah

Here are the links to thier completed tag posts (updated as I find out about them):
FernChasida, AidelMaidel, Miriam, Jendeis, BabkaNosher, Ayelet, Tzipporah, (and Batya, indirectly!)

4 comments, so far. Add yours now!

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Teacherninja said...

Good work! You managed to be odd, thrifty and productive all in one silly meme tag.

Miriam said...

We prefer our donuts without jelly. All of us.

me too!

very resourceful son!

Anonymous said...

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Awesome post, just want to say thanks for the share

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