For the past several years, I've toyed with the idea of lighting a menorah with the girls during Hannukah, in the interest of countering the often-overwhelming flood of Christmasness that ensues during this time of year. As with many of my good intentions, this idea wound up falling by the wayside thanks to a general lack of time and organization. But when I found out that this year would be the only Thanksgivukkah we are going to see in my lifetime, I could not let the oppotunity slip away. So I hied myself to Tarzhay, there to procure their finest $15 menorah and box of ombre blue-and-white candles. The girls were beside themselves with delight - or at least, they were, until I disabused them of the notion that they were going to be getting eight more presents. "Why are we doing this, then?" groused India. I blathered my way through a lengthy answer about cultural sensitivity and understanding other religions that no one listened to, and an oration about how we have a ton of STUFF and we don't need more STUFF and not every holiday has to be about STUFF that no one else agreed with, and we waited for the big day to roll around.
The first night of Hannukah arrived. I gathered the girls and prepared to light the first candles. I read the Hannukah story to the girls [side note: the Greeks, who are one of my favorite ancient civilizations, don't come out of that story very well]. Then we lighted the first candles with a minimum of tussle between the rug rats, which was a pleasant surprise. "So why are we doing this?" I questioned the girls, pedagogue mode fully engaged. "Because we need to understand other cultures and religions, blah blah blah respect yada yada," Cici responded, sighing heavily and rolling her eyes. "I still don't see why we can't exchange presents," India groused. And a good time was had by all. This continued with full engagement for days 2, 3, and 4. Then on day 5 we had...something going on that took place somewhere outside the house - dance lessons, maybe? a meeting of some kind? - which resulted in the requisite candle-lighting being forgotten until we walked in the house at 9 p.m., which happened again on day 6, subsequently followed by two days of complete and total screw-uppery, during which time I thoroughly forgot the whole menorah altogether until I walked past it yesterday and realized OH CRAP THERE ARE TWO SPOTS LEFT FOR THE CANDLES WE TOTALLY DIDN'T LIGHT. And, INTERFAITH UNDERSTANDING FAIL.
That is when I realized that I .... am not cut out to be an M.O.T. One heretofore unrecognized benefit of my Christian cultural heritage is the fact that, even with the weeks and weeks of buildup beforehand, I only have to gear up for *one* day of celebrating, not eight. Furthermore, you don't have to try to multitask a major holiday with everything else you have to do in your everyday life. I must say, my hat is off to all you who manage to mark all eight days of Hannukah with presents and games of dreidel and special foods on top of doing all the usual workaday tasks that need doing. I count myself very accomplished if I manage to make it to the mailbox of an evening and get everyone something hot to eat before they go to bed. I can't imagine working all day and then having to go home and make latkes and suchlike (to which, yum).
So now I am stuck in the embarrassing position of having tried to do something all PC and multiculti and failing at it miserably. The menorah, minus the two candles for the days we fell down on the job, is still sitting on my kitchen counter and presenting me with an uncomfortable moral dilemma - would it be rude just to take out the candles and quietly stash the whole shebang away til next year, when I will be organized and prepared (ha)? Or do I need to add the last two candles, let them burn down to meet the level of the others, and then do some kind of, I dunno, closing ceremony for this year's performance? Or is there some kind of third way of having "do overs" that is officially sanctioned? Inquiring minds want to know!
I do plan to continue my efforts at expanding the girls' horizons, but I think we are going to move on from Judaism to something a little more interfaith, like Festivus. That's the perfect horizon-expanding holiday for the lackadaisacal-but-concerned overcommitted mother like me: You can celebrate it on the official date of December 23rd, or on another date in December that's more convenient, or on any other date throughout the year, actually. There's only one night of celebration. I'm pretty sure I would rock the "airing of grievances," since that's basically "everything that ever comes out of my mouth," and when Warren falls asleep on the couch, I can have the girls sit on him and pretend they pinned the holiday host down in the requisite Feats of Strength. Yep, I am all over this Festivus thing next year. Just as soon as I can get my hands on an aluminum pole. Maybe I will wait til we have a Festigiving.