A few weeks ago, my wife came home after shopping at one of those big-box chain stores. I won’t identify which one; let’s just say its official mascot may or may not be a bull terrier with a bull’s-eye painted around its left eye.
She didn’t buy much, but one thing in particular made a profound impression on her during the shopping outing. Among the items she noticed in the clothing department was a line of what you might call “ugly Chanukah sweaters.” Some featured greetings wishing folks a cheery Festival of Lights, she said, while others depicted dreidels and Chanukah menorahs.
Ugly Chanukah sweaters? Really?
But with a click of a computer mouse, I immediately found sweaters — and yes, they were indeed ugly — bearing such whimsical messages as “I Love Peace and Latke Grease,” “This is How We Jew It,” “Meowy Christmas, Happy Hanukcat” (with a feline cartoon), “Come On Baby, Light My Menorah” (featuring an attractive young model), “You Spin Me Right Round, Baby” (with dancing dreidels), “Deck the Halls with Matzo Balls” and “Happy Hanukkah, Ya Filthy Schmuck.”
Who said good taste is dead?
My reaction was mixed. On one hand, hey, good for us. We’ve made it in America, and all those years of kvetching about how Jews get short shrift during the winter holiday season finally paid off. Like our Christian brothers and sisters, we now have our own cottage industry of ugly holiday sweaters and everything that comes with it.
Thank you, Adam Sandler, for your never-ending renditions of “The Chanukah Song.”
At the same time, you can’t help but feel a little, well, repulsed by this trend in Hebraic holiday garb. Yes, it appears we’ve been accepted in the “Goldene Medinah,” but at what price? Everyone knows that Jewish songwriters like Irving Berlin, Mel Torme and Sammy Cahn penned some of the best-loved Christmas tunes of all time, revealing to the world our people’s longtime envy of twinkly holiday lights, well-decorated Xmas trees and lethal eggnog.
But ugly Chanukah sweaters seem to be where we should draw the line. Maybe Chanukah did need a marketing makeover. But do we really need to out-Christmas Christmas? Must we appropriate every crass tradition and holiday staple from our friends on the other side of the religious divide?
Right now, we’re living in the high season of gift giving. Malls and shopping centers throughout America are overflowing with people trying to find just the right gift for the special people in their lives. Cash registers will ring, sound systems will blare holiday music, websites will crash and merchandise will move. For some, holiday shopping is a joyful process; for others, it’s a torturous endeavor.
Finding the ideal present is always a challenge. This month’s cover story offers a wonderful array of tasteful ideas for what to get for the most cherished people in your life. We hope you find it immensely beneficial to your holiday shopping experiences.
But please, keep away from those ugly Chanukah sweaters.
Alan Feiler, Editor-in-Chief
Above image: Screenshot from tipsyelves.com
Jmore’s holiday guide includes Chanukah recipes, holiday event ideas, seasonal traditions, party dresses, gift ideas and lots more. Get festive here.
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