Eight presents for eight nights. That’s the way Chanukah works in our house. Each night the drama begins anew. We say some prayers, sing a song, and presents are distributed.
And I hold my breath. Praying that the children will be happy with their gifts.
A friend of mine was holding court recently. The topic was holiday presents.
Specifically, can clothes be given as presents? Now, there are no holy books with great sages’ views on said topic. So, we are left to our own wits.
My initial reaction: “Of course, it counts.”
However, my friend, whose youngest child is in 11th grade, presented his three children’s arguments why clothes don’t count.
- They are a necessity.
- It is a parent’s obligation to clothe their child.
I think my friend’s children make a point. He might have a lawyer or two in the bunch.
From this Jew’s perspective, Christmas gift giving seems less dramatic. If the children are given a slew of presents or even just a few, you can throw a shirt in or something similarly practical. The child might be disappointed, but with the knowledge that the next present is right there, waiting to be opened – hope remains.
However, with Channukah, the next present is 24 hours away – an eternity to a young child. Each night there is pressure. My wife is the gift buyer in our house. She puts in major hours scanning the internet to find the ‘right’ presents for the boys. I am both impressed with the effort and care and a bit scared. She’s intense. So, if the children aren’t happy, it is my wife who feels more of the sting.
All of this being said, when BR received a shirt the other day, and he freaked out. By the way, it was a Lego Ninjago shirt. He loves Lego.
Anyway, he was not happy and did not feel any need to refrain from showing his displeasure. Through tears, he kept repeating, “I don’t want a shirt. Why would you give me a shirt? I want toys.”
We tried to reason with him, but he was in meltdown mode. Better to back away and let him cool down a bit.
Part of me was pissed off. Doesn’t he know how much his mother works to find the right presents for him and his brother? Doesn’t he know that some people don’t get any presents? Doesn’t he know that one should always express gratitude when given something?
I’m sure he knows all of this – on some level. It is our (my wife and I) job to make sure BR and SJ grow up to be gracious and appreciative – even when they get a shirt.
So, I say yes, shirts count.
What say you?