When I was a kid, my Mom tried to convince my sisters and I that Hannukah Harry was going to come for eight days straight to bring us presents for Hannukah. If you know anything about Hannukah Harry you know that there is nothing to know about Hannukah Harry. That’s because there’s no such thing as Hannukah Harry. He is total bullshit. He’s not a real fake icon like Santa Claus who has his own marketing campaign, signature ensemble, theme song, and mailing address.
But Mom gave it her all, trying to convince us that Harry was as cool as Santa and that Hannukah was as good as Christmas. But even as a youngster, I knew the truth. Hannnukah is the Khloe Kardashian of holidays. No one really wants Hannukah. But if Christmas isn’t available, they’ll take it.
Religiously Hannukah isn’t a big deal. In fact it’s only made a big deal because of the timing. It usually comes right around Christmas causing every Jewish child to wake up, at least once in their life, and say, “Fuck this blue and white bullshit, I want me some Christmas.” Christmas has decorations, meal plans, saints, gifts, edible houses, peppermints, days off school, egg nog, tinsel, trees indoors and lighting design. Celebrating Christmas is like living on a movie set if you didn’t have to get sexually harassed by the director. On the other hand Hannukah has… a candle that didn’t go out 4000 years ago.
Being the only Jewish kids in our school, you can imagine just how badly December sucked for us. December, as you know, is the month brought to you by Christmas. December is Christmas cookies, Christmas cheer, Christmas presents. Sure there are “holiday performances,” which are just Christmas-themed shows masked to be inclusive. Honestly, who really wants to sing, “I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay. And when it’s dry and ready, oh dreidel I shall play!” when they get their own sleigh bells and get to sing, “Dashing through the snow, with a one-horse open sleigh…”
Hannukah doesn’t have sleigh bells. Best case scenario, we go hear a sweaty guy play Klezmer music on the clarinet at the local Jewish Community Center because of the promise of donuts.
Deep down inside, I’ve always had a bit of Christmas envy. It’s not just my peers who would come back from winter break with detailed accounts of the haul they took in the name of Jesus’ birth. It’s the festive, fun, family factor. Christmas always looked like fun.
Jewish holidays usually consisted of us stuck in a house with people we didn’t get along with while eating binding food from the old country (New York). Christmas was parties, lights, special clothing, and togetherness. At Christmas you may have been locked in a house with people you didn’t get along with, but at least you were drunk while you did it.
So I’ve spent a lifetime trying to mend my Hannukah wounds by convincing myself that Christmas sucks.
“It must be such a burden to get all those presents,” I’d say to a Catholic friend while secretly stalking which gifts I could share.
“Oh the kids must hate all the parties and attention,” I’d protest.
“Anyone else think Santa’s a little creepy?” I’d say while walking by his house at the mall.
But Christmas doesn’t suck. In fact, it’s perfect.
Or was perfect.
Enter The Elf On The Shelf, also known as that filthy doll who looks like the only boy cheerleader in high school that you Christmasers have stalking your children and giving them nightmares.
What the Christmas fuck is that?
Who’s idea was this? Who thought a sleigh made entirely out of lights on your lawn wasn’t good enough so let’s put a doll around the house and have him stalk our children?
“Let’s take pictures of him sitting on the toilet, or fisting another elf!”
“Let’s Instagram him going on vacation with us!”
“I know, let’s pretend to have a three-way with us and the Elf On The Shelf!”
He’s a doll, people.
He’s a fucking, fabulous doll.
You see Christmasers, we Jews and Kwanzaites and Seventh Day Adventists and maybe Mormons (do they celebrate Christmas?) have been on the tail end of your perfect Pinterest holiday our entire lives. We’ve eaten fried potatoes while you attend parties solely for the purpose of eating cookies. We get nightgowns, socks, and a book or two for Hannukah while you get trips to the Bahamas and a jet ski of your own. You get the day off of work, paid no less, while we get Chinese food and babysitters who say, “No fucking way. I’m not coming in no matter how much you pay me.”
But now Christmasers, we get to laugh.
Because grown-ups are playing with dolls.
And taking their picture.
And sharing that picture with others.
Hannukah Harry may be lame, but the Elf On The Shelf is bullshit.
Suddenly Hannukah doesn’t seem so bad after all.
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