This week we deal with Chanukah presents and the kids who probably don’t deserve them:
My kids fight all the time. How do I prevent this?
You can’t. Kids will always fight. Until you die. Then they’ll fight over your stuff. The only way to stop that is to not actually have any stuff worth fighting over.
“I don’t want his stuff. You take it!”
Sibling rivalry is nothing new. Every parsha in Sefer Bereishis has sibling rivalry – there’s Kayin and Hevel, Shem and Cham, Avraham and Lot, Yishmael and Yitzchok, Lavan and Rivka, Yaakov and Eisav, and Leah and Rachel, followed by four parshios about Yosef and his brothers. So nothing you say or do will ever end this. Just be happy they’re not selling each other.
Kids will fight about everything. An experienced parent knows that even if you stop every argument your kids are having, they’re just going to come up with dumber things to argue about. It’s called picking their battles. Every morning, when I bring my kids to school, they fight about who’s going to get out of the car first when I pull up in front of the building. They don’t even like school. They just want to be first.
Mind you, the car has more than one door. They can get out on different sides. But they both want to get out on the same side because no one wants to be the one to close the door. If they get out of opposite doors, they both have to close them.
A lot of parents would say, “So get a minivan with doors that close by themselves.” That’s the answer: Spend thousands of dollars so that instead of arguing about this, our kids can find something else to argue about. It’s like when kids argue about who has to wash the dishes, so you get a dishwasher, and then they argue about who has to empty the dishwasher. Never mind that emptying the dishwasher is basically equivalent to the job they both WANTED before, when the person who didn’t wash the dishes had to put them away. And dry them.
The annoying thing is that every morning, I have to wait for the kids to drag themselves out of the house and get into the car. But when we get to school they’re in such a rush to leave the car first that they spend time arguing and get out of the car much later than they otherwise would.
So to end the fight, I said that whoever gets out of the house first gets to get out of the car first. Makes sense, right?
So now they argue about who got out of the house first. I have no idea who got out of the house first, because now they beat me out of the house. I come into the living room, and they’re gone, out in the front yard, and neither of them has made their lunches, because they each wanted to get out first. They’re willing to starve all day, just so they won’t have to close a car door.
I normally buy Chanukah presents on Black Friday, but apparently this year, for some reason, Black Friday is on Chanukah. What do I do?
I don’t know. What did the Maccabees do in this situation? Now we know why it took them a few days to get oil. But then they got it cheaper, so there.
But I know what you mean. Black Friday not coming out before Chanukah seems to go against everything the Jewish religion stands for. Be thankful this will never happen again, firstly because Chanukah will never be this early again – the Jewish calendar in general keeps shifting later and later – but also because Black Friday is getting earlier and earlier and earlier in the year. Apparently it’s called “Black Friday” because that day, stores are in the black. This is the one day they pull a profit. So you’ll excuse them if they want to get to that day earlier and earlier. But my point is that by the time Chanukah comes out this early again, Black Friday will have made it all the way around the calendar backwards.
Actually, they’ll probably meet sometime during the summer first. But this definitely won’t happen in your lifetime, especially if you show up without Chanukah presents.
Maybe you should just go to the stores when you can. Stores have regular sales every week, and things are not that much more expensive. It’s better than waiting in really long lines to get into stores to wait in more really long lines and get into fistfights to save a couple of dollars.
“No. I wouldn’t be working then anyway. It’s 3 in the morning.”
But the truth is that you have plenty of stuff around your house that you keep accumulating more and more of, but is absolutely useless. Even if one or two of something is useful, you’re never going to use fifty thousand of them. But just because these things are useless to you doesn’t mean you can’t give them to your friends and family. For example, you can give out a nice assortment of hotel soaps.
There are other options too. Just tastefully arrange a collection of any one of these things in one of the ever-growing number of decorative mishloach manos baskets you have accumulating around your house that you can’t re-gift because everyone you know knows exactly who gave out these baskets last year:
Bentchers. You can’t fit enough people in your house to use as many bentchers as you have. What, are you just going to give them out at your next kid’s wedding?
Dreidels. Your kids keep coming home with dreidels, and you only play the game once over the entire course of Chanukah – on the ninth night, right before chassidishe shkiyah.
Reusable cloth bags. Every business gives them out at conventions now, even though – and follow me closely here – all bags are reusable. The only difference is that cloth bags don’t make embarrassing crinkling sounds.
Those little paring knives that you get for free when you watch a demonstration at Kmart.
Chopsticks. Every restaurant gives out chopsticks with their sushi, as if you don’t have any chopsticks at home, and you take them. You might as well, because you just paid well over a dollar a bite for six pre-made bites of fish. Are they actually disposable? But then what are non-disposable chopsticks made out of? Metal? They’re just two barbecue skewers? No one throws out their old chopsticks after they use them. They can’t be any worse than that wooden spoon they give out for bedikas chometz, which reminds me:
That wooden spoon they give out for bedikas chometz.
The big box of single socks. There are plenty of things people can do with your socks, such as use them as cleaning rags or make puppets, and you’re not going to do anything with them, because you’re still holding onto the slim hope that someday their significant others will come home.
Ketchup and soy sauce packets. Also those little jellies they give you in the hospital. Either the jellies are too small or the bread is too big. Who uses so little jelly? Is this in case I want to make one donut?
Calendars from different tzedakkah organizations.
Your kids. You have way too many of these lying around the house, and they’re pretty much useless. All they do is make noise and fight. So why not give them to your loved ones?
Have a question for “You’re Asking Me?” Put it with the others. We’ll find a use for it.Mordechai Schmutter
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