I am happy to introduce you to my husband, Matt, who has kindly agreed to write a guest post here at Most Days I Win. I've been asking him for
Look, this is a difficult time. We will, each and every one of us, miss his winning smile, infectious laughter, love of impossibly twee indie rock, and the way his nose would wrinkle when he would condemn millions to starvation. Today, we mourn Kim Jong Il (here he is interviewing Renée Zellweger). To borrow the title of Mr. Burns’ autobiography, “Will There Ever be A Rainbow?”
How will we go on? We may rend our clothes, don sackcloth and ashes, or build a funeral pyre, but we must soldier on, for him. How, then, shall we find light to dispel the darkness? How ‘bout a barely literate former professor talking to a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds about Hanukkah? That’s the ticket.
First, enjoy Shira dancing to the Canadian National Anthem, which is not, contrary to popular opinion, “SK8TR BOI” (a song with lyrics almost as stupid as “Hey, Soul Sister”):
Alyce’s teacher kindly allowed me to speak to her class about Hanukkah. Alyce’s school is quite old-fashioned in its unbuttoned celebration of Christmas, despite the fact that there is a growing non-Christian, especially Muslim, student body. It’s harmless enough, but I doubt this situation would pass muster in a larger, more diverse city. Anyhoo, here’s what happened:
With Shira packed in the stroller and Alyce strollin’ at my side--and by strollin’ I mean her foot speed might be a negative number--we padded down to the school. I had to wait out in the hall for about 20 minutes after class started so that the teacher could calm the usual madness and tears that accompany the beginning of any school day. This is when Shira took the opportunity to dance interpretatively to “Oh Canada!,” warbled out over WWII-era speakers by hundreds of grade schoolers. It sounded like they were singing underwater, but don’t think for a minute that sound quality stopped Shira from getting her groove on.
Called in, Shira and I encountered several dozen of Alyce’s classmates, all of whom were very intrigued by the trespass of a toddler, especially one wearing snow boots roughly the size of engine blocks. I started by asking if anyone knew something about Hanukkah. I received two answers: that Alyce celebrated it (as the class said in unison) and, from one rather intrepid student, that it was the time when Jews wrote on their hand, confusing the Hindu/Jain “festival of lights” (Diwali) with the Jewish holiday. Wrong, but fortune favors the bold, my friend. Clearly the teacher has made an active attempt to incorporate an idea that there are those who celebrate differently, and this is all Jews can ask in a great land of malchut shel hesed. Alyce’s teacher mentioned that a lot of Christmas specials she has seen this year have brought in Hanukkah, remarking in particular about this year’s Caillou movie.
(Side note: Caillou--what a putz. Here’s some dialogue from a typical episode:
Caillou’s Dad: Hey Caillou, want to learn to roller skate?
Caillou: I do, daddy!
Caillou’s Dad: Great! Watch this 15 minute dubbed Dutch roller skating safety film, and then will talk about it and all the bulky padding that you get to wear that will impair your balance and ruin any chance that you might enjoy it.
Caillou: Great! I’m gonna have a nap.)
So, we talked about the Hanukkah story, the students especially enjoying the wicked King Antiochus. Alyce piped in with, “Is there a pretty princess in this story?,” and, my favorite non sequitur, “Did you bring my Princess book?” We discussed the hanukkiyah (menorah), candles, foods, and games. They learned that Hanukkah lasts eight crazy nights. I asked them how many days Christmas lasts, and the eager responses ranged from six days to two weeks. Good times, good times.
The students, a really nice group, were especially enthusiastic about Hanukkah treats. Danielle and I prepared sufganiyot (powdered doughnuts, often filled with jelly) for the class. When I asked them if they would like me to sit there and eat all of the doughnuts by myself in front of them, I nearly caused a riot. Lesson: Don’t mess with people’s doughnuts. Check. We also purchased some lovely colored, translucent dreidels for the students. I explained to them the rules of dreidel, which will prepare them for a life of gambling, a safer bet, to be fair, than a BA in the humanities.
When it was time to ask questions, students came up with these gems: “It was my birthday yesterday,” “Can I go to the bathroom?,” and “Is Alyce’s sister allowed to eat markers?” The answer to the last question, if you are curious, is “no.”
Lastly, no class-wide Hanukkah discussion is complete without a screeching 19 month old who treated the classroom like Godzilla treated Toyko. Although barely mobile in her engine block shoes, Shira terrorized Alyce’s classmates, sitting on their laps, yelling in their ears, pilfering their dreidels, and just generally wreckin’ up the place.
All in all, though, a rousing success. I look forward to talking to the class in September 2012 about the Fast of Gedaliah.
Editor's Note: Proof that he actually did this.