Thank you for this, Seth. I've always wondered about the personal, cultural minutiae of Chanukah/Chanukkah/Chanukka/Channukah/Hanukah/Hannukah. I knew about the general accoutrements (menorrah, dreidel....Adam Sandler "Eight Crazy Nights" album ), but always wondered....what's it like to BE Jewish and experience it from within.
As far as that bit about the onions and potatoes, I can tell you, that smell can be a familiar Christmas smell, too, if you happen to have immigrant grandparents from Germany (can you imagine the smell of cookies, kuchens, AND pototoes and onions?)
OK, sweety...you know me and Murphy's Laws, right? Weeeeelllllll......
I'm gonna try to help you understand "us" from within....by our tool: Humor. I'll put translations in parentheses so (as Molly Goldberg would say) "You should understand noch besser (better yet)." Translations and explanations in brown...the color of my luck. (You shouldn't know from it!). Sephardic (Eastern) Jews use words in Arabic or Ladino (Hebrew + Spanish) to convey similar concepts. European Jews use Yiddish (Hebrew + German).
We've all heard it, read it, and, as Jews, definitely lived it: "Murphy's Law" or some version of: "If anything can go wrong it will."
But who is this Murphy anyway? Do we know him? Does he know from "going wrong?" We all know who the real experts are in this department. Us.
Who, more than Jews have had higher hopes and rainier parades? Step one: Ironic/sardonic humor while addressing our (admittedly) not so hot history (VICTIMS)! LAUGH ABOUT WHAT HURTS (but stick the needle in so "they" should understand).
Remember: "They tried to kill us, we beat them, EAT!" (summing up our holidays).
I say, Murphy-Shmurphy! His real name was probably Hyman Murphosky, an old-world haberdasher from Minsk, who, expecting to prosper, bought a used steam machine that shmutzed and burned so much of his inventory, that Hymie's son, Melvin, had to forego his medical education to pinch fedoras. "Oy-oy-oy," cried Murphosky the elder, while his son sat, hunched over and pinching.
"If anything can be farpatshekt (messed up), trust me - hold onto your hat! Personally, there should be a law. "
From there, it was only a hop, skip, and jump to a compendium of Murphosky's Law(s). So in honor of Hymie and Melvin Murphosky, I bring you examples of MURPHOSKY'S LAW ...plus a few corollaries.
* When guests ask what you'd like for your Birthday and you say: "Feh! All I want is your company," that's all you'll get. You minimize and hope for more: Forget it. Practical presents or gor nisht (nothing).
* If you tell your child he should take up a career that makes him happy, he'll become a mime.
* After you've won the "Manischewitz Matzoh ball Cook-off," your mother-in-law will always say: "Could use a little salt." You can NEVER satify a "Jewish Mother". To do so you would remove the WMD: Guilt!
* If you're right 100% of the time, who cares? No one will listen anyway. Abandon hope all ye who enter here! In other words it's pointless, "I'll never succeed because to do so they'd have to admit I'm right and WORSE: I'm no longer a victim!"
* No matter how much of a bargain you get, your sister-in-law will get it cheaper To wit: You can't win NYAHHHH!
* Tell your daughter and son-in-law, "Go on vacation, darlings, there will be other Mother's Days," and you'll get a postal card from Aruba. Ahhhh....the WMD in action! Guilt! AND, if you don't succeed you win anyway because they'll be miserable there and JUST WAIT til they return and you can tell them how much you were alone and missing them (you weren't and didn't but YOU WIN!).
* If your mother says everything's all right, call 911, as something's very very wrong. You can NEVER believe at face value. The kvetcher (complainer) if a Jewish Mother (and they are pros) NEVER minimalize except to cause guilt and doubt.
* No matter what you cook, everything will taste like chicken. Irony
* The more expensive the carpet, the greater the probability of a borscht stain.
* If anything can go wrong it will ... when Mr. Murphosky's mother is visiting. Whatever can go wrong and will AT THE WORST MOMENT!
* Everything that has gone wrong for anyone else, went less wrong than it did for you. This is close to the nucleus....vital that you are the "Ultimate Victim!"
* Call something a minor problem, and some "maven's" sure to turn it into a big tsimmis. The "Authority" phenomenon will have you travel to the Rochester or Mayo Clinic because your kid's runny nose could well be Bubonic Plague or Brain Cancer (tfoo, tfoo <= against the evil eye). You forgot to plug the computer in....turns into a law suit againt Dell. Based usually on "GUILT" (WMD) which is "the gift that goes on giving".
* Teach your parrot Yinglish, and his first will be "yutz" - to your boss. No matter how hard you try, the results will be farkakt (beshitted).
* Always assume the bottle is half-full- unless it's your last bottle of diet Dr. Pepper in which case your brother-in-law, the chazzer (pig), will drink it.
* Whenever you wake up to write a brilliant joke for your act on a napkin, your mother will decide to "tidy up" - at 6 a.m - for the garbage man or because the maid is coming and "G-d Forbid" the house should be dirty...what would the maid think?.
* No matter how many times you try for roast beef, it'll come out brisket.
* Tell your daughter, "Go, you might meet somebody," and she will - a doctor named Mohammed. Nu? Beginning to understand? Irony. To the older generation you'll get what you want only if getting it will make you unhappy.
* Try to teach a meshugener (crazy person) something, and not only will you become meshugge (crazy), but he'll be better at it.