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Have you ever had a moment when it suddenly dawned you that you have suddenly become the living embodiment of a stereotype? Mine came just a few days ago. I was reading a friend’s holiday wish list, filled with small and not-so-small luxuries and items related to her hobbies, when I began wondering what I’d put on my own holiday wish list. Immediately, I thought of Smart Wool socks and new underwear.

Socks and underwear! Can you imagine? I fell in love with Smart Wool when I splurged on two pair a few weeks ago. They are soft and warm and non-itchy, but alas, they are also expensive. And really, who wants to spend big money on socks? I don’t. As for the underwear, well, mine have come due for replenishment, and who really wants to spend money on that? So there you have it: The top of my holiday wish-list includes items best described as breathable and non-allergenic. How exciting, and how stereotypically Jewish.

Immediately my mind wandered to a fabulous Saturday Night Live episode from 1989, “The Night Hanukkah Harry Saved Christmas,” a skit featuring Phil Hartman* as a laid up Santa Claus worried that Christmas may be have to be called off. Just as all looked very bleak, in comes his old friend Hanukkah Harry (Jon Lovitz), promising to stand in Santa’s place and deliver presents to all the gentile boys and girls.

Flash forward to a house with two small kids (Mike Myers and Victoria Jackson) staying up late, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a red-suited, button-nosed man bearing Barbies and pellet guns. You can imagine their surprise—and disappointment—when instead they are greeted by a black-suited, Jon Lovitch-nosed man bearing socks (“8 pair!”) and slacks (“You’ll grow into them.”) The little girl then gives a little speech about what she’s learned from this experience:

“Well you know how we’re always jealous of Rachel and Josh down the block ’cause they always get Hanukkah presents for 8 nights? Well maybe these are the kind of presents they get, so we shouldn’t be jealous!”

And there you have it. The very funny portrayal of a stereotype I have not only internalized, but also projected onto my own child. Because all the while I’ve been planning to order Simon a personalized sled for Christmas, and even though my own childhood Hanukkahs included toys like Barbies and Lite-Brites, this year for Hanukkah I’m getting Simon books, baby legs (kind of like socks, only footless and longer), and booties. Well, kid, I guess you should just be grateful you are still too young to wear underwear!

*Rest in peace, Phil. The world is a less funny place without you.

One Response to “Perpetuating the Stereotype (Happy Hanukkah!)”

  1. Monica says:

    As someone who has recently purchased smart wool socks, smart wool leggings, and a smart wool shirt, I recognize what a nice gift they would make. Hey man, it’s cold in New Hampshire and I spend a lot of time outside! Tomorrow’s high is 30, the low is 12, snow is everywhere and I have to spend 5 hours on a boat with virtually no enclosed cabin space.

    It truly is a sad symptom of growing up, but at some point adult practicality seems to take over.

    Happy Chanukah!

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