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How To Celebrate Hanukah-A Family Comedy
It is important to own or rent all of the necessary ingredients to properly celebrate Hanukkah. Follow these easy steps to ensure that a good time will be had by all.
First, collect these important ingredients: siblings must be present to ensure fighting. If there are none in the participating family adopt two (or to be safe three) between the ages of nine and eighteen, or if available siblings may be borrowed from neighbors and friends.
The second vitally important ingredient to a happy holiday is the Super-Jew dad (I have one) who cannot carry a tune, (there will be singing during this celebration). If one is not available in the family, race over to the nearest temple on any Friday night to pick one up; plan this in advance because every year there is a rush on these dads and you do not want to be left without one. Make sure to spend enough time in the temple to pick one that cannot sing, believe me there will be plenty. Warning: do not attempt to pick one that is under the age of forty-eight because they have not yet reached their Super-Jew status.
The third ingredient is The Book of Prayers in Hebrew. This book should be in very bad condition and will be an extremely ancient artifact like from the 1960's. This book must be a prized possession of the Super-Jew dad (if you are renting a Super-Jew dad from the temple check to make sure they have this prayer book). The prayer book must be torn and burnt from Super-Jew dad's youth. Warning: Super-Jew dad's eyes will well-up every time he looks at it. It must be stored with the greatest of reverence in a ziplock baggie at the bottom of a closest.
The fourth ingredient is a box of special candles made for the celebration every year. They can be bought in most large markets. The box of candles must contain three or more colors to ensure fighting between your rented or biological siblings. For the first night of Hanukah only two candles will be needed per menorah. For this example let's assume two menorahs.
Menorahs (candelabra with nine little candle holders) are the key element and the primary source of fighting. It is important to purchase an exciting menorah (like one with animals or skiers) and then a boring plain menorah. This way the kids will have something to fight over. In my family, each participant gets his or her own menorah.
Lastly, a lighter is required (preferably broken) and some back-up matches. The lighter being broken adds excitement to the night, because matches are harder to light and most likely some kid will set something on fire and that's a huge plus.
Now, it is time to start the celebration! Call the siblings down for the celebration. Wait ten minutes while each child fights over which menorah they will use, what color candles they will get, and which seat they will sit in. Wait four minutes while the Super-Jew dad re-explains how to hold the ancient prayer books. Then, Super-Jew dad will open up the ziplock bag that carries the prayer books by using his forefinger and the thumb, retrieve each prayer books from inside the bag and place in front of each participant.
Then, open the box of candles, remove two candles per menorah and lay them on counter. One candle is for the first night of Hanukah and the other is called the shamash, this is the candle used to light all other candles. Attempt to melt the bottom of one of the candles with the broken lighter; retrieve matches, children argue over who gets to light match. Take out a match and quickly swipe it along flint on box of matches. The match will ignite, then for four seconds heat up the bottom of the candle so it will get soft. This will make it easier to stick into the menorah. Proceed by sticking the melted end of the candle into the farthest left holder on the menorah so that the unlit wick faces straight up.
Pick up prayer books and begin reading the printed service with each sibling taking turns and correcting each other. At the end of the short prayer book there will be a song, 'Rock of Ages'. Hum softly and with mortified embarrassment as Super-Jew dad sings out loudly completely out of tune. (Laugh to self).
The final part of the ceremony is the actual lighting of the candle indicating the first night of Hanukah followed by the receiving of gifts (by this time greatly deserved). To light the candle for the first night which is already standing in the menorah, take the shamash and light the wick using a new match. Then using the shamash light the already implanted candle in the menorah, wick to wick. Using the flame of the implanted candle gently melt the bottom of the shamash and stick it into the holder in center of the menorah so that it stands straight up. Then, realizing how dangerous it all is and being a cautious people by nature, very carefully grab the sides of the menorah carry it over to the sink and place it gently standing straight up in the sink for fire safety. DO NOT blow out the candles, if a young child has already done this, the mom must eye the child silently and quickly relight the candle before the Super-Jew dad sees it has been blown out. Finally, give the anticipating children their gifts all at the same time.
Repeat for eight nights adding a candle each night. Remember somewhere in the middle of it all why you love each other and how important tradition really is to the fabric of a family.