Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why it's good that Hanukkah stuff is ugly as hell

Alright, it must be said, the Hanukkah decorations I see around here are the ugliest, clunkiest, most designed-as-an-afterthought-by-the-gimp-in-the-basement pieces of shit imaginable.

Really. That is what I think.

Every time I'm strolling through Target, or doing some casual online shopping for whatever (shoes. It's usually shoes.) or on the off chance that I wander into an actual store sometime between the months of September and January and happen to cross the Holiday Decor aisle or the register festooned with holiday froo-frooiness, I see how Hanukkah has gotten the shaft in the decent decoration department.

And that's once I get past the sub par wrapping paper designs and cheesy clip-art paper plates and Fischer-Price dreidels. Those things I've long learned to live with in their totally-unremarkable-except-for-their-ugliness forms.

But the menorahs? That's where the rubber meets the road for ugly Hanukkah design.

I feel that, when it comes to designing menorahs, the job must have been doled out to someone as a form of punishment based on the results I see for sale in the greater USofA.

There is no way that a sane person, possessing both the ability to see out of both eyes and the aesthetic sensibilities of a diseased rat could create these menorahs unless they were being forced to create them, in the dark, with only a limited number of symbolic references and while at gun point. With the goal of making them as quickly as possible and uglier than the guy's next to him who's already had his arm shot off for making one faintly passable.

May I offer up a few examples?

I may:

Blue base. Blue light bulbs. Star of David. We get it - it's for Jews.

The cat-lovers version, naturally.
Because why wouldn't cats represent a holiday based on the miraculous ability of one day's worth of lamp oil lasting eight days? Now, show me one of these cats with its tail on fire, and we'll talk.

Is this supposed to be a Basque take on the menorah? Wow. Maybe let's not push it.

My favorite of the heinous designs - the Made from Whatever Small Item We Have Nine Of design.

Why must there be so many electric versions? Are we not to be trusted with matches? Will the bulbs burn out automatically in eight days? What about on shabbat? Isn't there some rule against using electricity on the sabbath? I don't know any of these answers.

Anyway, what I'm trying to tell you people is that, even though I am about as unobservant as a Jew can be, I still find it disappointing that in this day and age of aesthetically-pleasing toilets, we can't even come up with a half decent array of Hanukkah holiday decor. And, so help me Hannah (that's a Finny's Mom special quote right there) if I see another deer candle holder being pawned off as a menorah I'm going to punch someone in the fucking throat.

Meanwhile, I've bought exactly zero Hanukkah, or even Any Holiday, themed merchandise in recent memory, save for the cards I put together with the help of Tiny Prints and under the guise of wishing people a "Happy Ski Season!" because I can't even be associating myself with holidays if they're going to look like this.

Thankfully, we'll always have the ubiquitous snowflakes, generic blue paper from the kid's birthday party supply aisle and silver ribbon from the wedding section with which to wrap the festive underwear and socks (what? You don't give your loved ones undergarments for Christmas? Terrible.) Though lately I've resorted to taking the horrifyingly bad wrapping paper and turning it white side out or scrapping traditional wrapping paper altogether and going for the Spanish newspaper some jerk-off keeps tossing on our doorstep.

As it turns out, El Mensajero offers better choices for giftwrap than Target. Something I never would have guessed.

But, hey, as long as all the accoutrement is completely unappealing, I won't have to torture Bubba with trying to convince him that we should have in it our house and that we should celebrate holidays like normal people rather than the way we actually celebrate them.


  1. A few years ago my husband and I painted a paint-it-at-home-and-send-it-to-your-loved-one-as-a-hanukkah-gift-menorah (from Target of course) for his Jewish grandparents. We couldn't agree on what colors to paint it and it was turning into one of those really stupid huge fights until one of us had the brilliant idea of each of us painting one side of the thing. A Rachele side, and a Scott side each completely different from the other except where our paint jobs touched and mingled in a horrible brown poo type of way.
    I REALLY wish that I had a picture of that thing because it would give all of the menorahs that you found for your post a real run for their money in the ugliest menorah in the universe contest. It would win that contest, hands down, and then go scare a few children with its ugliness.
    Neither one of us wanted to admit how ugly it was so we shipped it off to Atlanta (home of the grandparents) for Hanukkah and they, for some reason that we cannot fathom, display the thing year round in a place of honor on the top shelf of their china cabinet. It's so humiliating, especially when "Bubby" points it out to people while we are there and says "Scott and Rachele painted that for us".

  2. Here's a menorah you might like:
    Too bad there's no picture of the rabbi's beer-bottle version.
    Happy Ski Season!

  3. Well Finny. I think you've found your niche in the design market. And the first menorah you design should feature cats with their tails on fire. Because that would be funny. If not particularly religious and devout.

  4. I totally agree that the Hanukkah decorations are entirely unappealing, but then I think all the Christmas decorations are pretty fug too, at least at the grocery store *I* frequent (from which all my decor is purchased because I'm white trash like that).


    It beats the antlers, yes?


    see now this one is not so bad....

  6. An old friend, who wasn't Jewish, just into kitsch, had a Muppet menorah complete with Kermit in a yarmulke. Really? Kermit is Jewish?

  7. Do people really pay $118. dollars for that deer thing?!!! I mean, it's not really horrible, and different people have different tastes, but $118 dollars??!!!!
    Maybe I'm in the wrong business and should start making and selling things like that...

  8. You are the most creative woman I know. I am honestly a bit surprised you haven't taken blacksmithing classes to address this issue.
    I hope this does not get me a punch in the throat. You know I love you!

  9. This is too funny. I was just discussing this very issue with my brother in law. As a newcomer to Hanukah, I just accepted our ugly menorah but fill it with the best-looking candles I can find. And really, it's not that bad looking. But my bil was saying that they don't even have one because he can't find one that isn't fugly or doesn't cost lest than $200 or something ridiculous. We agreed that places like the JCC giftstore or Jewish museum are the worst offenders. It seems the general consensus of your readers is that you should just design a good one already. What a great gift for my bil and his wife for next year, huh??

    Our son is still confused by the lighting of candles and wants to blow them out. He says, "It's Avi's birthday!" which I personally think is funny, given the whole Christmas thing.

    Happy ski season.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

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Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.